In the middle of yet another period of worry with regard to the pandemic, Indian travellers have a reason to feel hopeful—the country has jumped seven places in the recent Henley Passport Index rankings, to 83 from 90 in the last quarter of 2021. The authoritative ranking system updates the most travel-friendly passports globally based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In the latest development, India expanded its visa-free access to 60 countries, adding two to last year’s 58.
A country emerging as a top holiday destination for South Asian travellers, Oman is one of the two nations Indians wouldn’t need a prior visa to visit anymore. Be it Muscat’s coastal charms and architectural wonders, the famed frankincense trail or authentic Middle Eastern culinary delights, Oman’s allure as an international getaway could be expected to rise beyond its historical status as a fertile employment market for the South Asian workforce.
Armenia, which was one of the first countries to open its borders to Indian travellers after the pandemic forced worldwide border closures, is the other name on the visa-free list. The landlocked country in the Caucasus has traditionally been overshadowed by neighbours Azerbaijan and Georgia, not to mention tourist magnet Turkey. If the sublime sights of capital Yerevan and the rich historical offerings all over have somehow eluded the Indian traveller’s fancy, the visa-free access offers fresh incentive for stimulating, offbeat explorations, whenever there’s a lull in the global caseload.
Following the latest rankings, concerns around the ever-widening international mobility gap among nations in the wake of the pandemic have also been expressed. Singapore and Japan are at the top of the passport rankings, and can visit 192 countries visa-free as opposed to Afghanistan, which has access to only 26 nations in that category.
Travel—both abroad and domestic—is expected to take place in waves in the immediate future. For a ready reckoner to international guidelines for countries currently open to Indian tourists, check out our guide.
Prannay Pathak dreams about living out of a suitcase and retiring to the island of Hamneskär to watch films in solitary confinement. He is Assistant Editor (Digital) at National Geographic Traveller India.