Spain leads the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index and Australia has moved up into seventh position. It’s the first time Spain has topped the biennial index – published today under the theme Growing through Shocks – and it’s a positive sign for Spain’s nascent recovery. In the previous report, published in 2013, Spain ranked fourth, while in 2011 it ranked eighth.
Australia ranks seventh in the latest index. In 2013, Australia ranked 11th and in 2011 Australia was 13th, so Aussie travel and tourism competitiveness is improving steadily.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranks 141 countries on 14 separate aspects, revealing how well countries can deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector.
A World Economic Forum statement said Spain’s top ranking had been helped by a world class ranking in cultural resources (first globally), its ability to support online searches for entertainment (fourth) – a measure of how well the country has adapted to consumption habits brought on by the digital revolution – as well as excellent infrastructure (fourth).
After Spain, the top 10 countries are made up, in descending order, of France, Germany, USA, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada. All are traditionally strong travel and tourism destinations. Switzerland (sixth) led the index in both 2013 and 2011.
Of the large emerging markets, China (17th) and Brazil (28th) made it into the top 30, whereas Russia, South Africa and India ranked 45th, 48th and 52nd, respectively.
While this made Brazil and South Africa the best placed in their region, Singapore (11th) came top in South-East Asia, and the United Arab Emirates (24th) was the highest placed nation in the Middle East and North Africa.
The least competitive country in the world in the travel and tourism sphere, ranking 141st, is the African nation of Chad.
“The diversity in the top 30 shows that a country does not have to be wealthy to have a flourishing tourism sector,” said Roberto Crotti, economist at the World Economic Forum. “But many countries should still do more to tackle travel and tourism challenges, including visa policies, better promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection and ICT readiness. This in turn would drive economic growth and the creation of jobs.”
The report also identifies areas where tourism-oriented economies could do better in adapting to changing global trends as well as growing market segments. These include a growing number of middle class travellers from emerging and developing countries, senior consumers and millennials. It also finds a need for travel-reliant economies to adapt faster to online services and marketing, as mobile internet continues to define the way travellers select, plan and review their trips.
The global travel and tourism sector, which already accounts for almost one-tenth of global GDP, grew at an average of 3.4% per year over the past four. This compares favourably with the global economy, which grew at only 2.3% per year, indicating the sector’s resilience to economic shocks. In the coming five years, growth in the sector could accelerate to 5.2% per year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The report contains detailed country profiles for the 141 economies featured in the study, including a comprehensive summary of their overall positions in the index and a guide to the most prominent travel and tourism competitive advantages and disadvantages of each. Also included is an extensive section of data tables that cover each indicator used in the index’s computation.
The World Economic Forum produced the report in collaboration with Strategy& and data partners Bloom consulting, Deloitte, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Edited by Peter Needham