Dhaka: Following the coronavirus pandemic, many countries globally have begun reopening borders and relaxing travel restrictions. However, travellers from Bangladesh are still restricted from entering many countries as the country remains "high-risk" for coronavirus. As a result, the passport of Bangladesh is losing its power internationally and has dropped three positions down to 101st among 109 spots in the third quarter edition of the Henley Passport Index 2020 (HPI) published on July 7.
Meaning, the Bangladeshi passport is now the world's ninth weakest.
It ranked 98th in the first quarter edition of the HPI index published in January this year. However, it was placed at 99th in 2019.
The recent edition of the passport index ranked passports of 199 countries in 109 spots according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
According to the latest ranking, the number of destinations Bangladeshi passport holders can travel to without a prior visa – 41 out of total 227 – has not increased since the January edition.
These 41 destinations include: 16 in Africa, 11 in the Caribbean, seven in Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand), six in Asia, and one in South America.
With a Bangladeshi passport in hand, it is not possible to visit any European country without a visa.
The global COVID-19 pandemic may take a further toll on Bangladeshi passport holders.
On July 9, Italy banned the entry of Bangladeshi citizens or passengers in the country till October 5 due to a fear of importing coronavirus cases.
Earlier in June, Japan banned flights from Dhaka and EU temporarily banned Bangladesh from being eligible for Schengen Visa.
Japan's passport, on the other hand, is the world's most powerful with visa-free entry to 191 countries, followed by Singapore (190 destinations), and jointly Germany and South Korea (189 destinations). Meanwhile, Afghanistan's passport is the weakest in the world.
Although Japan and South Korea have made it onto the EU's safe countries list, Singapore has not.
Hence, the number of destinations with visa-free access has dropped to 163 for Singapore temporarily.
The United States, hardest-hit by COVID-19, has access to 185 countries without any prior visa and shares seventh position with Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
However, the EU has banned entry of American citizens too, resulting in a temporary fall in its visa-free access to the number of destinations to 158, roughly equal travel freedom with Mexico (ranked 25th) and Uruguay (ranked 28th).
In the HPI rankings, passports of most South Asian countries have found themselves among the lowest-performing, meaning that the countries in this region significantly lack the convenience or privilege to travel freely.
The passport of the Maldives is the most powerful in South Asia (ranked 62nd) with visa-free entry to 85 countries followed by India (85th), Bhutan (90th), and Sri Lanka (100th).
Bangladesh is in fifth position in South Asia – ranking above Nepal (104th), Pakistan (107th), and Afghanistan (109th).