Infographic: How Powerful is Your Passport in a Post-Pandemic World?
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How Powerful is Your Passport in a Post-Pandemic World?

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World's most powerful passports

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How Powerful is Your Passport in a Post-Pandemic World?

With COVID-19 cases falling in many parts of the world and vaccination programs ramping up at warp speed, international travel no longer seems like a distant dream.

The Henley Passport Index, which has been regularly monitoring the world’s most travel-friendly passports since 2006, has released its latest rankings and analysis.

The most recent data provides insight into what travel freedom will look like in a post-pandemic world as countries selectively begin to open their borders to international visitors.

Prominent Countries Still Holding Strong

The rankings are based on the visa-free score of a particular country. A visa-free score refers to the number of countries that a passport holder can visit without a visa, with a visa on arrival, or by obtaining an electronic travel authorization (ETA).

Without considering the constantly changing COVID-19 restrictions, Japan firmly holds its position as the country with the strongest passport for the 4th year in a row.

This positioning is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA)—with Japanese passport holders theoretically able to access a record 193 destinations from around the world visa-free.

The last time Japan didn’t hold the number one position was back in 2017, when it shared the 5th spot with countries like the United States, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

Rank (2021)CountryVisa-Free Score (2021)Rank (2011)Visa-Free Score (2011)
1🇯🇵 Japan1934170
2🇸🇬 Singapore1929164
3🇩🇪 Germany1912172
3🇰🇷 South Korea19110163
4🇫🇮 Finland1901173
4🇮🇹 Italy1903171
4🇱🇺 Luxembourg1903171
4🇪🇸 Spain1904170
5🇦🇹 Austria1896168
5🇩🇰 Denmark1891173

Singapore remains in 2nd place, with a visa-free score of 192, while Germany and South Korea again share joint-3rd place, each with access to 191 destinations.

Throughout the 16-year history of the Henley Index, EU countries have maintained a dominant position in the passport strength reports. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain all hold the 4th position while Austria and Denmark round up the top 5 with a visa-free score of 189.

CountryRank (2011)Rank (2021)Difference
🇺🇸 United States57-2
🇨🇦 Canada990
🇲🇽 Mexico29236
🇬🇧 United Kingdom37-4
🇧🇷 Brazil25178

The United States and the United Kingdom jointly share the 7th position with a visa-free score of 187 destinations. Canada, Mexico and Brazil hold the 9th, 23rd and 17th positions respectively, with Brazil experiencing a significant jump of eight places over the last 10 years.

Editor’s note: Visit the Henley Passport Index site for a full list and ranking of all countries around the world.

The Countries With The Least Travel Freedom

Afghanistan continues to be the country with the least amount of travel freedom, coming in last place (110th rank) with a visa-free score of 26 destinations. Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen have access to slightly more visa-free travel, but still linger at the bottom of the overall ranking.

Rank (2021)CountryVisa-Free Score (2021)Rank (2011)Visa-Free Score (2011)
110🇦🇫 Afghanistan2610124
109🇮🇶 Iraq2810028
108🇸🇾 Syria299337
107🇵🇰 Pakistan329931
106🇾🇪 Yemen339139

The latest report indicates that the gap in travel freedom is now at its largest since the index began in 2006. Japanese passport holders can access 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, who can visit only 26.

The Biggest Gainers In a Decade

Over time, small annual moves in the Henley Passport Index can make a big impact—and in the last decade, countries like China and the UAE have been the biggest movers:

China has risen by 22 places in the ranking since 2011 by going from a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 40 destinations to now 77.

The most remarkable turnaround story on the index by far, however, is the UAE. In 2011, the UAE was ranked 65th with a visa-free score of 67 destinations. Today, thanks to the Emirates’ ongoing efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties with countries across the globe, it is now ranked 15th with a remarkable visa-free score of 174 destinations.

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Business

The World’s Largest Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Real estate investment trusts (REITS) are a simple alternative for investors looking to gain exposure to real estate.

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The World’s Largest Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Real estate is widely regarded as an attractive asset class for investors.

This is because it offers several benefits like diversification (due to less correlation with stocks), monthly income, and protection from inflation. The latter is known as “inflation hedging”, and stems from real estate’s tendency to appreciate during periods of rising prices.

Affordability, of course, is a major barrier to investing in most real estate. Property markets around the world have reached bubble territory, making it incredibly difficult for people to get their foot in the door.

Thankfully, there are easier ways of gaining exposure. One of these is purchasing shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT), a type of company that owns and operates income-producing real estate, and is most often publicly-traded.

What Qualifies as REIT?

To qualify as a REIT in the U.S., a company must meet several criteria:

  • Invest at least 75% of assets in real estate, cash , or U.S. Treasuries
  • Derive at least 75% of gross income from rents, interest on mortgages, or real estate sales
  • Pay at least 90% of taxable income in the form of shareholder dividends
  • Be a taxable corporation
  • Be managed by a board of directors or trustees
  • Have at least 100 shareholders after one year of operations
  • Have no more than half its shares held by five or fewer people

Investing in a REIT is similar to purchasing shares of any other publicly-traded company. There are also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds which may hold a basket of REITs. Lastly, note that some REITs are private, meaning they aren’t traded on stock exchanges.

The Top 10 by Market Cap

Here are the world’s 10 largest publicly-traded REITs, as of March 25, 2022.

REITMarket CapDividend YieldProperty Type
Prologis (NYSE: PLD)$116.4B2.03%Industrial
American Tower (NYSE: AMT)$109.8B2.38%Communications
Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI$76.8B3.35%Communications
Public Storage (NYSE: PSA)$65.9B2.14%Self-storage
Equinix (NYSE: EQIX)$64.4B1.74%Data centers 
Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG)$48.9B5.07%Malls
Welltower (NYSE: WELL)$43.0B2.58%Healthcare
Digital Realty (NYSE: DLR)$40.1B3.55%Data centers
Realty Income (NYSE: O)$40.1B4.44%Commercial
AvalonBay Communities (NYSE: AVB)$34.6B2.62%Residential

As shown above, REITs focus on different sectors of the market. Understanding their differences is an important step to consider before making an investment.

For example, Prologis manages the world’s largest portfolio of logistics real estate. This includes warehouses, distribution centers, and other supply chain facilities around the globe. It’s reasonable to assume that this REIT would benefit from further growth in ecommerce—more on this near the end.

Realty Income, on the other hand, owns a portfolio of over 11,100 commercial real estate properties in the U.S. and Europe. It rents these properties out to major brands like Walgreens and 7-Eleven, which together account for 8.1% of the REIT’s annual income.

More Than Just Buildings

Cell towers and data centers may not seem like “real estate”, but they are both critical pieces of modern infrastructure that take up land.

REITs that focus on these sectors include American Tower and Crown Castle, which own wireless communications assets in the U.S. and abroad. They are likely to benefit from the increased adoption of 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT).

On the other hand, Equinix and Digital Realty are focused on data centers, a fast growing industry that is benefitting from digitalization. Both of these REITs work with major tech firms such as Amazon and Google.

Trends to Watch

The demand for real estate can be heavily influenced by overarching trends found around the world. One of these is population growth and urbanization, which has drastically pushed up the cost of housing in many cities around the world.

There’s also the rising prevalence of ecommerce, which has triggered a boom in demand for warehouse space. This is best captured by Amazon’s massive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the company doubled the number of its warehouse facilities.

Globally, ecommerce accounts for just 19.6% of total retail sales. Should that figure continue to rise, industrial real estate prices could be in store for robust, long-term growth.

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Misc

Walmart Owns Most of the Supermarkets in Mexico

Walmart’s presence in Mexico is dominant, with over 2,700 stores. How does their store count compare to companies in the region?

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Walmart Owns Most of the Supermarkets in Mexico

The U.S. and Mexico have influenced each other in many ways over the course of their history, through both the exchange of culture and the cross-border trade of goods and services. One lesser-known area of overlap between the two nations? Supermarket ownership.

This graphic from Latinometrics ranks supermarket popularity in Mexico by tallying the number of locations per chain, and showing who owns those brands.

Mexico’s Relationship with Walmart

When it comes to supermarkets in Mexico, no single company comes close to matching the reach of Walmart. Also the world’s largest company by revenue, Walmart has over 2,700 stores in the country, including chains it owns such as Sam’s Club and Bodega Aurrera. The latter is both the largest supermarket within the Walmart category, and also the most popular in Mexico.

Bodega Aurrera was first established in the 1970s, two decades before Walmart entered Mexico’s market directly in 1991. The discount store now has some 2,000 locations across the country.

In fact, it’s almost safe to say that Mexico is Walmart’s second home. After the U.S., which has just over 5,000 stores, the greatest number of Walmart stores reside in Mexico. But on a per capita basis, there are more Walmart-owned stores in Mexico. Specifically, there is about one Walmart-owned store per 47,000 Mexicans, compared to 62,000 for Americans.

CountryNumber of Walmart Stores
USA5,342
Mexico2,755
Central America864
UK*632
China397
Africa414
Canada408
Chile384
Japan*328
India29

Source: Walmart.com, Statista (International figures, January 2022), *Japan/UK figures from January 2021

The company’s presence in Mexico is so strong that Walmart’s Mexico division trades separately on the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV) under the name Walmex. In March of 2022, Walmex had a market cap above 1.3 trillion pesos, or $64 billion.

Supermarkets in Mexico by Revenue Market Share

Overall, with the thousands of stores that they operate, Walmart’s revenue in Mexico gives it a 68% market share within the country’s supermarket industry.

Other American grocery retailers to make the list include H-E-B, a San Antonio-based chain with stores in northeast Mexico, and Costco, which opened its first Mexican location in 1992 as Price Club (before the companies merged).

Sorianna, the next biggest supermarket operator, holds about 15% of the industry’s market share. It is joined by Chedraui, Casa Ley, La Comer, and Alsuper as Mexico’s biggest domestic grocery chains, with some of them also extending their reach into the Southwest United States.

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