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TRAVEL NEWS

Spain has third most powerful passport in the world

Those with Spanish citizenship are in luck because their passports are the third most powerful in the world, meaning they can travel to many different countries without the need for a visa.

Spain has third most powerful passport in the world
Spain has third most powerful passport in the world. Photo: DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP

If you want to go on a last-minute break, it’s really only possible to countries that don’t require you to apply for a visa beforehand or issue you with a visa upon arrival. 

The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and each year it reveals the number of destinations that passport holders from around the world can access without a prior visa.

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations and offers all kinds of information on global mobility, ultimately revealing which passports are the most powerful. 

Each country is scored on the total number of destinations that a holder of its passport can access without a visa. For each travel destination, if a visa is not required, they receive a score of one. This also applies if holders are able to obtain a visa on arrival, visitor permit or electronic travel authorisation (ETA) upon entry.

The rankings for 2023 show that Spain, along with Germany, is in joint third place, meaning that Spanish passport holders can visit a total of 191 countries without needing a visa.

READ ALSO: Why Spain is second favourite country for Americans to move to

In joint first place are Japan and Singapore whose passport holders can visit a total of 193 countries without requiring a visa.

They are closely followed by South Korea in second place, whose passport holders can visit a total of 192 countries.

After Spain and Germany, there are several European countries on the list. Those from Finland, Italy and Luxembourg come in fourth place, able to visit 189 destinations, while those from Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden come in fifth place able to visit 188 destinations.

These are followed by passports from France, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom in sixth place, allowing them to visit 188 countries without a visa.

According to the rankings, only 17 percent of countries give their passport holders access to more than 80 percent of the world without a visa.

The three countries with the least powerful passports are Afghanistan whose holders can only visit 27 countries without the need for a visa, Iraq with a score of 29 and Syria with a score of 30.

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TOURISM

Seville to charge entry to iconic Plaza de España

Authorities in the Andalusian capital have announced they will charge visitors to access one of Spain’s most famous landmarks in a bid to preserve it.

Seville to charge entry to iconic Plaza de España

No visit to Seville is complete without a stroll through the intricately detailed Plaza de España, a grand square with exquisite architecture, water features and, as often happens, plenty of tourists.

So it’s no surprise that the announcement by Seville’s mayor that the emblematic square will no longer be free to enter for visitors has proven divisive to some and unavoidable to others.

“We are planning to enclose the Plaza de España and charge tourists to finance its conservation and guarantee its safety,” José Luis Sánz tweeted on Sunday. 

“The monument will of course continue to be freely accessible and cost-free for all Sevillians,” the right-wing mayor added.

This will mean that those who are registered at Seville town hall (padrón) or who live in the province, as well as those born in the Andalusian capital, will not be charged entry.

On the other hand, visitors from other countries and other parts of Spain (including those from other Andalusian provinces) will be charged an entry fee which is yet to be disclosed.

Sánz explained how there are also plans to create an artisan workshop school in the square and that the earnings from ticket sales will pay for a 24-hour surveillance service in the square.

Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition the following year in the city on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, the Plaza de España is famed for its neo-Mudéjar Moorish architecture, Venice-style bridges and detailed ceramic tile collections honouring each of Spain’s autonomous regions. 

If it’s not Spain’s most famous square, it’s certainly its most flamboyant. 

However, its increasing popularity has meant that it’s been targeted by vandalic acts and swarmed by illegal street vendors, which spurred conservationists at the Association for the Protection of Andalusian Patrimony (Adepa) to suggest in 2018 that access to the square be controlled.  

Early estimates suggest 3.4 million tourists visited Seville in 2023, a new record

As visitor numbers to the Plaza de España (Square of Spain) are not monitored there is no data, but the equally popular Royal Alcázar of Seville palace, which does charge entry, had 1.9 million visitors in 2023.

Opposition Socialist leader and former Seville mayor Antonio Muñoz has criticised Sánz’s plans to “privatise” the iconic square, arguing that “nobody would even think of closing off San Marcos Square in Venice or the Plaza de Mayor in Madrid” and that it essentially represents “stealing public space from the general public”.

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