… Index shows country retained gains while others improved, declinedThe Guyana passport can still get Guyanese travellers to 88 countries without the need for a visa, but the progression of other countries has seen Guyana drop in the 2019 rankings of the Henley and Partners Passport Index.According to the 2019 statistics, Guyana is now ranked at number 58, a reduction of three spots from the 55th ranking it received from the Index in 2018. The highest-ranked Caribbean country on the Index is Barbados, which is ranked at 24Guyana has dropped three places in the world of visa-free travelwith 159 visa-free destinations.Barbados last year was ranked at 21. It also declined in terms of destinations. Barbados is followed by The Bahamas (26, 154); St Kitts and Nevis (27, 151); Trinidad and Tobago (30, 148); St Lucia (31, 145); St Vincent and the Grenadines (32, 144) and Grenada (33, 143).The Henley Passport Index has historical data spanning 14 years. The Index and its contents are based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA). It is updated using in-house research and open source online data.The Index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations, and is updated in real time throughout the year when visa policy changes come into effect.With Guyana’s oil and gas sector, there is much expectation that the local passport will increase in power and usability. Indeed, the Guyana Government has said that it wanted the country included in the list of countries that can travel to 26 countries in Europe, known as the Schengen area, without a passport.There have also been moves to give Guyanese business owners and frequent travellers the option to choose a 46-page machine-readable passport, at a cost of $10,000 as compared to the country’s current 32-page passport.During his Budget 2019 presentation in the National Assembly last year, Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced the new passport. The Minister explained that the new passport would reduce both the cost and the time spent to renew the document once it has expired.The Department of Public Information (DPI) spoke to persons at the Central Immigration Passport Office about this new measure. Collin Chung, a Venezuelan by birth with Guyanese parentage, said as a frequent traveller, this new passport would be quite convenient for those persons who were too busy to undertake the renewal process and should be embraced.“I think the 46 pages passport would be beneficial, because we are entering industrialisation through our exploitation of petroleum in the country, so it would open a lot of doors and break down barriers to expand on tourism within the country.”In expressing her views, Gloria Giddings said that although she was simply visiting the country, she could appreciate how the new measure would benefit the regular air traveller.It was only last year that Guyana’s passport had increased in value according to the Henley and Partners Passport Index. The Index had shown that Guyanese can travel to 88 countries visa-free/visa-on-arrival, moving the country up four places on the Index’s rankings, to 55 in the world.According to the 2017 index, Guyana’s passport allowed Guyanese to travel to 81 countries without requiring a visa or with a visa granted on arrival.