Why do Mauritius passport holders have such easy visa access to so many countries?
As per Wikipedia:
As of 1 January 2017, Mauritian citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 131 countries and territories, ranking the Mauritian passport 33rd in terms of travel freedom according to the Henley visa restrictions index. As of December 2017, Grenada, Serbia, Seychelles and Mauritius are the only countries whose citizens may travel without a visa to China, Russia and the Schengen Area.
Mauritius does not have the bargaining power of European Union, it is not a superpower, it does not play an important role in global politics.
What gives it the edge? I know about visa reciprocity, but Mauritius needs some bargaining power.
For many countries, the decision to allow visa free travel is based on the likelihood of abuse of the immigration system. In the case of Mauritius, the judgement is that Mauritian citizens do not represent a significant risk of overstaying. Mauritius has a stable democratic government and a successful economy, so Mauritian citizens are happy to return home. On the other hand, Mauritius is not so rich that it feels the need to protect itself from immigration. It is happy to allow visa free travel to encourage the tourist industry.
Mauritius has a diverse population, with links to the UK, France (former colonial rulers), India and China (significant demographics). It has good relations with the superpowers and has benefited from this.
Two additional points: 1) Mauritius is a small country (population ~1M, not all of which are citizens or can even have a Mauritius passport) thus further lowering the risks. Had it 1.5 billion inhabitants, even with the same GDP per capita, the same stability and the same economy, I doubt it would enjoy such favourable visa requirements. 2) Mauritius is a very popular tourist destination, so it does have a certain amount of bargaining power, though of course much lower than the one of EU or let’s say Canada, etc.
Can this answer be backed up? Who says that visa systems work this way, or that Mauritians represents a low-risk of overstaying?
@indigochild You have made a valid point regarding low-risk of overstaying of Mauritians. It would be better if James can provide more factual analysis. I am not accepting the answer till then.
@indigochild The U.S. visa waiver program certainly does work that way. A country's eligibility for the U.S. VWP is based on the percentage of rejected visa applications from that country. That said, Mauritius does _not_ qualify for the U.S. VWP.
@reirab - I am not disputing that it does or does not work that way. The point is that it should be backed up.