Spain has been ranked top of the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, replacing Switzerland, which dominated the list in past editions of the report.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranks 141 countries across 14 separate dimensions, revealing how well countries could deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector.
Spain’s leadership position is helped by a world class ranking in cultural resources (1st globally), its ability to support online searches for entertainment (4th) – a measure of how well the country has adapted to consumption habits brought on by the digital revolution – as well as excellent infrastructure (4th).
Traditional strong travel and tourism destinations such as France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada complete the top 10. 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 up top in South-East Asia, and the United Arab Emirates (24th) was the highest placed nation in the Middle East and North Africa.
“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 percent per year over the past four. This compares favourably with the global economy, which grew at only 2.3 percent per year, indicating the sector’s resilience to economic shocks. In the coming five years, growth in the sector could accelerate to 5.2 percent per year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
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).