Friday, February 23, 2024

The Most and Least Welcoming Countries Around the World for 2023

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As you plan your travels, there are often many priorities. That may include finding a place that offers plenty of sunshine. Or perhaps a destination that’s family-friendly. Or you may be looking for a getaway that features ample history and culture.

Yet another factor to consider, and one that may get overlooked, is how visitor-friendly a destination may be. Or more specifically, how easy does the destination make it for international travelers to visit.

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The website Passport Index has the answer to that question. It has issued a ranking of countries based on how welcoming each country is for visitors. And by welcoming, Passport Index means which countries have the fewest border restrictions or visa requirements for travelers and therefore welcome visitors from the greatest number of countries visa-free or by simply issuing a visa upon arrival.

When considered through this lens, some 21 countries rise to the top of the heap and tie for first place as “the most welcoming countries” in the world on the Passport Index ranking.

The top 21 include Angola, Bolivia, Burundi, Cambodia, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, the Maldives, Micronesia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, and Tuvalu.

Each of those countries received a score of 198—meaning they allow visitors from nearly 200 countries to visit without requiring a visa or they issue a visa upon arrival.

Barbados is the most welcoming Caribbean destination, according to the Passport Index. It allows entrance to visitors from 179 countries without requiring a visa or issuing a visa upon arrival. Cuba ranks next on the list, welcoming visitors from 177 countries based on the same measure.


Sunset in Jamaica. (photo via Paul G. Smith)

Some of the other top-scoring destinations include Ecuador, which received a welcome score of 164 (which again means the country admits visitors from 164 different countries without a visa or issues a visa upon arrival for such visitors). Nicaragua and Singapore tie next, with a score of 162. India follows close behind with a score of 161.
Additional notable rankings include Hong Kong, which admits visitors from 147 countries without visas or issues visas on arrival. Saint Lucia earned 143 in the ranking, while the popular destination of Jordan came in at 141.

Other notable destinations that fall farther down the list are Jamaica with a score of 121, meaning it allows visitors from that many countries without a visa or issues visas upon arrival, followed by a tie at 120 between Saint Kitts and Nevis; Bahamas, and Panama.

Notably absent from the best-ranked countries are the United States and Europe, both of which have stricter visa policies. The United States in particular is known for excessive visa wait times.

The United Kingdom earned a score of 95. And a slew of other well-known destinations tied at 92 including Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Iceland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Sweden, Cyprus and Slovenia.

Canada scored a mere 54, followed by Australia at 46, and the United States of America at 45.


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