Ayo Alonge, Lagos
The Passport Index by Arton Capital has declared, in this year’s rankings, that Nigeria is the joint ‘most open’ country in the world.
Citizens from 198 countries worldwide can now travel to Nigeria without a pre-arranged visa. Nigeria shares the top spot with 21 other countries, 13 of which are from the African continent – with more than 50% of the world’s most welcoming countries hailing from Africa.
Tourism presents an area of fast potential growth for the Nigerian economy and remains an essentially untapped sector. Currently, only making up around 2% of the Nigerian GDP, there are hopes that ease of access will act as a catalyst to revolutionise the way Nigeria is seen as a tourist destination.
The unfortunate reality remains that Nigerians are currently limited in their own ability to travel abroad, in spite of their welcoming of foreign nationals into the country. With access to only 48 countries worldwide without a pre-arranged visa, some Nigerians are now actively choosing to take advantage of dual-citizenships.
Many countries offer potential program paths to citizenship, a trend wealthy Nigerians, in particular, are finding gives them better access to foreign travel and opportunities abroad.
To date, no Nigerian visa arrangements or policies with other countries have been cancelled, and all COVID-related restrictions currently in place are temporary. A strong bounce-back for international travel in Africa and globally is expected soon.
The President of Arton Capital, Armand Arton, who produced The Passport Index, said: ‘This year’s findings from both our Welcoming Index and our Global Index show some impressive dynamic changes for the Nigerian passport.
‘With a burgeoning middle class who are looking to travel, alongside a developing tourist scene which provides a huge source of income for the Nigerian economy, these results provide a prime example of a country who has taken the right steps in the past five years.
‘Whilst the Nigerian passport does, not at present, offer access into a significant number of countries visa-free, the legality of dual-citizenship makes it a lot easier for Nigerian’s working abroad to travel without persistent visa limitations.
‘In addition, a strong welcoming score will aide tourism into the country whilst the signing of visa-free travel agreements will allow Nigerians to visit more countries than ever before.’
The Passport Index is available online and also as a mobile app, and updates in real-time.
The Passport Index measures the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and 6 territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican) – a total of 199 are considered.
Data is based on official information provided by governments, updated in real-time with intelligence obtained through crowdsourcing and enhanced with proprietary research from highly credible sources.