Travel & tourism competitiveness rises especially in Asia: WEF

Travel & tourism (T&T) competitiveness is especially improving in Asia-Pacific, led by Japan, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017.

While countries in the region are at different development levels, the majority of nations have shown steady growth and have experienced improvements across a number of T&T competitiveness pillars, especially international openness, projects to create visa-free areas, pricing and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) readiness.

Tourists at the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan

Japan moved up five positions to take the fourth place globally, with WEF pointing to an improvement in price competitiveness (up 25 spots to 94th) as one main driver. Cost of travelling in the country has significantly been reduced – although the average cost of accommodation sees a slight increase – due to a decrease in fuel prices and air-ticket taxes.

Japan also boasts some of the most developed ground transportation infrastructure systems and ICT networks globally (both 10th), well-developed air connectivity (18th), overall openness to T&T activities (112th), although it has a tight visa policy.

Environmental sustainability remains the area where the country has yet to achieve better results, WEF stated, with high PM emissions (93rd), overfishing (71st) and increasing share of threatened fauna (129th), posing serious concerns both for tourism and for the country’s overall sustainability and biodiversity.

South Korea is one of the five most-improved countries, climbing 10 places to reach 19th position. It improved in eight of WEF’s 14 index pillars, with remarkable improvements on international openness (14th, up 39 places) and price competitiveness (88th, up 21 places). International openness has improved due primarily to newly signed trade agreements that have facilitated international transactions and investments, while its price competitiveness performance has benefitted from lower fuel and hotel prices, the report revealed.

Indonesia ranks 42nd, climbing eight places. The country stands out for making use of its natural resources (14th) at very affordable prices (fifth). Areas worth addressing, WEF pointed out, are deforestation (113th), insufficient treatment of wastewaters (109th), augmenting species listed as threatened (127th) and tourism service infrastructure (96th), with the supply of hotel rooms still low (93rd).

Vietnam rose by eight places, ranking 67th globally, driven chiefly by natural resources (34th), cultural resources (30th) and price competitiveness (35th), WEF observed. Moreover, the destination has made significant progress on its human resources and labour market pillar scores (37th, up 18 places), thanks to a better-qualified labour force (53rd) and partially simplified regulation to hire foreign labour (75th).

WEF noted that the country has also made “exceptional improvement” to its ICT capacity and usage (80th, up 17). Security and safety perception (57th) is also making Vietnam an increasingly attractive destination for developing its travel and tourism sector.

Overall, despite nativist and protectionist rhetoric making front pages, the T&T industry – unlike global trade – continues building bridges rather than walls.

WEF said this resilience is apparent from the growing volume of international travel and trends toward less restrictive visa policies. While data reveals there has been a slump in merchandise imports, the number of people travelling keeps rising.

View the full report here.

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