Caricom’s four most powerful passports
During a speech on March 1, 2015, Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, announced that while he was still willing to accept Americans as tourists, he was adopting a series of restrictive measures on American citizens for national security reasons. One such restriction is a new tourist visa requirement for American citizens traveling to Venezuela. The cost would be US$30 which should generate more than $1 million, based on American tourist trends in Venezuela during 2014, according its tourism ministry data. This development was a striking blow: the standing of the USA passport dropped from second to third most powerful in the world for visa-free travel. So I wondered: What are the four most powerful passports in Caricom for visa free travel?
Trinidad and Tobago holds the number four spot. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, holders of a passport from the land of the Scarlet Ibis or Flamingo can travel to 103 countries around the world without a visa. Some databases indicate Trinbagonians can travel only to 100 countries visa-free but my research indicates otherwise.
The number three spot goes to St. Kitts and Nevis, which tied with Antigua and Barbuda for the number two spot throughout most of 2014. You may recall that in December 2013, St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme (CIP) made international headlines when an Iranian national presented in Canada a diplomatic passport issued by St. Kitts-Nevis. The holder of the passport, a Mr. Moghadam, was made a special envoy for St. Kitts-Nevis to Turkey and Azerbaijan. Mr. Moghadam had allegedly purchased his citizenship for US$1 million. The Canadian authorities were not impressed. Effective November 22, 2014, Canada imposed visa requirements on the territory’s citizens who can now travel to 131 countries visa-free, while Antiguans and Barbudans have the benefit of traveling to 132.
The number one most powerful Caricom passports belong to The Bahamas and Barbados. Maybe this should not surprise us since the Bahamian dollar shares the same value as the US dollar, and the Barbadian dollar has held constant at 50 cents to the US dollar. Holders of a passport from The Bahamas or Barbados can travel visa-free to 138 countries.
In the near future, Trinidad and Tobago will add 26 more visa-free countries in Europe but it will not improve its rankings unless, St. Kitts-Nevis loses visa waiver status with two or more countries.
Is anyone surprised that the Caricom country with the least powerful (the weakest?) passport is Haiti?
Theo Alleyne, a travel professional with more than 15 years experience, pioneered No USA Visa Cruises™, and Layaway Cruise™. Contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette of The Bahamas holds up a
Bahamian Diplomatic e-passport.