Saturday, July 20, 2024

Botswana still lukewarm toward welcoming foreigners

Recent data which ranks countries and territories across the world based on the number of countries permitted to cross its borders visa-free shows that Botswana is among countries struggling to be more welcoming to foreigners. The assessment which was released by consultancy firm Henley & Partners, notes that Botswana’s lukewarm attitude to foreigners saw the country scantily crossing the half way mark with an openness rank of 52.02%.

The ranking is based on International Air Transport Association (IATA) data, and it examines 199 passports and their ability to obtain visa-free or visa-on-arrival status at over 225 destinations.

“If passport holders from a particular country/territory can enter without requiring a visa in advance, a score of 1 is assigned. This includes cases where passport holders are granted visa-free access upon arrival, are issued a visitor’s permit, or can obtain an electronic travel authority (ETA) without needing pre-departure government approval,” states Henley & Partners.

Additionally, they add that a score of 0 is given if a visa is required for passport holders to enter a nation or territory or if they must apply for an electronic visa (e-Visa) before leaving. “If passport holders need pre-departure government approval for a visa on arrival, this is considered as not meeting the criteria for “visa-free” and a score of 0 is assigned.”

Notwithstanding the fairly limited achievement on this front, president Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi is adamant about improving the movement of people. He stated at the beginning of the year that he intends to discuss the elimination of passport requirements with the presidents of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Hakainde Hichilema and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In a similar statistical analysis by the Henley Passport Index, the passport of Botswana is now placed 60th in the world with 89 visa-free locations. The index analyses the strength and accessibility of passports from around the world. Last year, Botswana was ranked 65th, with visa-free access to 87 countries.

On the African continent, the Botswana passport is the fourth strongest. Burundi, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, are the six visa-free or visa-on-arrival African countries that accept all 198 passports.

A passport can be used to evaluate a country’s standing on the global arena in addition to serving as a travel document that verifies a person’s identification. With visa-free travel to 155 countries, Seychelles has the best passport on the African continent and is ranked 24th globally. Second is Mauritius, which is accessible without a visa to 148 countries and is ranked 29th internationally. Third on the African continent with visa-free travel to 106 locations is South Africa, which is ranked 52nd globally.

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