Japanese passport becomes world's strongest

Week in travel: Japanese passport becomes world’s strongest

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Condé Nast readers select the best cities for 2018, while an emotional support squirrel delays a plane, and Dubai airport installs passport-free customs

Japanese passport is now the strongest in the world — Shutterstock Japanese passport becomes world's strongestThe Japanese passport is now the strongest in the world — Shutterstock

Owners of Japanese passports have become the travellers with the most freedom in the world. According to the new 2018 Henley Passport Index, Japan has overcome Singapore and has stronger travel documents than any other country.

The Japanese passport now allows its holders to enter 190 countries without a visa. The Singaporean passport, that now comes in second position, provides visa-free travel to 189 countries. And with visa-free entery to 188 countries Germany, South Korea and France hold third place.

“The Henley Passport Index is the most rigorous and sophisticated measure of global access,” Henley Passport index says on its official website.

“It goes beyond a simple ranking of passports to provide you with an in-depth picture of your travel freedom, including which countries you can access with which type of visa or how your passport has changed over the last 13 years.”

Iraq and Afghanistan, on the other hand, continue to hold the bottom spot. Citizens of both countries can only access 30 destinations without a visa.

Dubai airport installs new biometric recognition system for faster customs

First and business class passengers travelling from Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 soon won’t need their passports at all.

On Wednesday, Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs launched a pilot project that should implement a biometric recognition system enabling passengers to finish passport control procedures in about 15 seconds.

The Smart Tunnel, as the device is called, scans passengers while using facial recognition technology without the need of their passport being stamped or any other human intervention.

Director of GDRFA, Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, said the project was in a trial phase until it is officially launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of UAE and ruler of Dubai.  

He also confirmed that more smart projects were ahead to be implemented to enhance fast and smart travelling experience.

Condé Nast Traveler readers select 20 best cities in the world

If you’re wondering where to head this year, there are a few new recommendations.

In an annual poll organised by Condé Nast Traveler, more than 420,000 readers of the popular magazine have selected the 20 best small cities followed by the 20 best big cities around the globe for 2018.

San Miguel de Allende was named the best small city in the world — Shutterstock Japanese passport becomes world's strongestSan Miguel de Allende was named the best small city in the world — Shutterstock

And all the cities have something in common. In an age of overtourism and an influx of travellers to popular destinations, people seem to be looking for places that are “quiet, small and subdued”.

With “leafy courtyards, narrow cobblestone streets, and a historic town centre”, the number one small city is a San Miguel de Allende, a town in Mexico about 265 kilometres northeast of Mexico City.

While the second spot in this category belongs to Salzburg in Austria for its combination of pedestrianised Old City Salzach river’s left bank, and the nineteenth-century area on the right, third place goes to Lucerne in Switzerland, a city covered by bridges, turreted buildings, and featuring a colourful Old Town.

The best big city is Tokyo that “continues to thrill with its contradictions”, while second place goes to another Japanese city, Kyoto, and third belongs to Melbourne in Australia.

The whole list is accessible here.

Emotional support squirrel delays Frontier Airlines flight

Peacocks, miniature horses, or pit bulls. The topic of emotional support animals has become rather heated recently.

Unfortunatelly, rodents are prohibited from boarding — Shutterstock Japanese passport becomes world's strongestUnfortunately, rodents are not allowed on board Frontier flights — Shutterstock

To extend the list of species brought to the check-in queue, a Frontier Airlines passenger flying from Orlando, Florida, to Cleveland on Tuesday decided to take her emotional support squirrel with her.

Unfortunately, rodents are prohibited on board and as she refused to leave the plane, causing a slight delay of the flight, police had to intervene and escort the passenger to the main terminal.

According to the carrier, the passenger noted that she would bring an emotional support animal with her beforehand. However, she failed to state what type of animal it was going to be.

You can buy this French chateau for only €50

Have you ever imagined how it was to live like a French count? Now you have a chance to experience it fully as one of the iconic French chateaus is up for sale.

As a part of a crowdfunding campaign that aims to preserve and restore the 14th century castle of Ebaupinay in Deux-Sèvres, anyone can buy a share in a soon to be established restoration company for only €50.

“The idea is simple: a company owning the castle is set up at the end of the campaign,” the organisations said in a statement published on the crowdfunding page.

“Each donor then becomes a shareholder of said company, holding a number of shares proportionate to the amount they have contributed. The company then works democratically, with a board of directors and an annual general meeting.”

The project is the second of its kind. In 2017 a similar campaign was organised to preserve château de La Mothe-Chandenier, located 200 kilometres from Paris.

Over 80 days around 6,500 people participated in the event and raised $600,000 to buy the property.

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