Tourism rankings study reveals new trends

By Doug Newhouse |

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and international strategy consultancy Booz & Company have completed their latest global tourism Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index survey of 139 countries worldwide with some interesting findings.

The index measures the conditions of the respective travel industries in the areas of health and safety, infrastructure, prices, cultural activities, environmental protection and legal regulation.

The study says that China is key as a future growth market, with average scores for the country over the last three years of the study remaining stable. However, it adds that in general, global tourism is moving away from established regions such as Europe and North America towards the East. 

The survey states: “In the Asia-Pacific region, international tourist arrivals from 2000 to 2010 increased nearly twice as fast (85%) as the global average (39%). The UN World Tourism Organisation identified China as the third-most visited country in 2010, highlighting the country’s importance as a key driver of growth in this trend. Up 23 places, China now ranks 39th on the WEF Travel & Tourism Competiveness Index.”

Not surprisingly, destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt have fallen back in the rankings to 47th and 75th, ‘as development in those countries stagnates and they are overtaken by emerging countries’. The survey notes that whilst the current political unrest in many North African and Arab countries will most likely have a negative impact, it believes this will only be short term.

Turning to Europe, the survey points to a total of seven countries holding positions within the top 10, with Switzerland, France and Germany representing the top three countries. By contrast, Greece is now ranked 29th and Portugal is 18th, both dropping places consistently since 2008. One real winner in this year’s survey is Montenegro. 

The Balkan state is writing environmental protection into its constitution and relying on sustainable hotel development as it establishes its mountain regions as popular walking and skiing destinations. Spain is also noted as ‘a high climber’, having increased 23 places to 36th.

The UK also rose by ‘a very positive four places since the last assessment’, with the survey noting that this was largely due to increased safety and security, plus more competitive hotel prices.

It also adds: “In the near future, the UK is hosting both a royal wedding and the 2012 Olympic Games, which has created a priority for the Department for Culture, Media & Sport to create a tourism legacy from the 2012 Games and boost domestic market share. These events, and the investment in them, will likely see the UK improving its position in all categories.”

However, the survey said that the UK disappoints in the areas of hygiene and prioritisation of tourism, at 46th and 49th place respectively. The survey said: “Most noticeably, the UK lacks a positive attitude towards tourists and struggles to perceive their value: affinity for tourism remains in the low ranks at 86th place.”



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