Alongside Switzerland and Germany, the United States and Singapore maintained their positions, in sixth and 10th places, respectively. Sweden, the only other country in the top 10 to fall, dropped from fifth to ninth.
Among developed economies, New Zealand and Japan improved strongly; the former climbing to12th from 19th and the latter moving up eight positions to 14th. Emerging market economies reported mixed levels of progress, with India being the only BRIC nation to move up in the rankings. In this category, rising stars include Panama, climbing from 56th to 37th, and the Philippines, which climbed from 94th to 82nd on the back of policy improvements supporting the industry.
As well as providing insight into how countries are fostering the development of their travel & tourism industry, the report also offers a snapshot on the health of the industry and its role in driving global economic growth. With travel and tourism accounting for one in 11 jobs globally, the report highlights that the industry has proven resilient during the global economic downturn and can be a key factor in paving the way for developing and emerging markets to diversify into higher value economic activities.
MENA regionIn the MENA region, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the top performer. "The UAE - ranked 28th in the global Index - continues to lead the region thanks to rich cultural resources and a slew of international fairs and exhibitions, said George Atalla, Partner with Booz & Company. With its year-round sunshine, white-sand beaches, shopping malls, entertainment centers, recreational facilities and some of the finest restaurants in the world, UAE is definitely a popular tourist destination "Despite the impact on natural resources, the country has managed to build a thriving travel and tourism industry. It is also a world-class international hub for global air travel."
In second place for the region is Qatar (41st globally), a nation that boasts well-developed ICT and tourism infrastructures as well as excellent air transport and sports infrastructure. "Qatar's ability to offer tourists a safe and secure environment compounded with its role as a transport hub has significantly enhanced its travel and tourism competitiveness," added Antoine Nasr, Senior Associate. "Due to the economic boom, business tourism has significantly increased.
Ranked fourth in the MENA region, Bahrain has fallen 15 places since the 2011 assessment, namely due to security concerns. However the country maintains a number of clear strengths. Those include a highly-evolved transport infrastructure, skilled human resources and strong price competiveness.
Lebanon ranks 8th in the region and 69th overall with a number of cultural attributes, including five World Heritage cultural sites and some creative industries. Perhaps more importantly, Lebanon is ranked 1st out of all countries for its affinity for Travel & Tourism, with tourism accounting for a significant amount of economic activity, a very positive attitude toward foreign travellers, and an appreciation of the value of the country's attributes for tourism.
"Egypt, ranked 10th regionally, drops 10 positions in the global assessment to reach 85th overall, probably the result of the continuing unrest in the country. Most notably, the evaluation of the safety and security environment has dropped to the lowest position of all countries covered in the Report," added Atalla.
The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index covers 140 countries and uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, international travel and tourism institutions and experts. It also incorporates the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum and its network of partner institutes (research institutes and business organizations) in the countries covered by the report. The survey provides data on many qualitative institutional and business environment issues.
The report's cross-country analysis of the drivers of competitiveness in travel and tourism provides comparative information that is useful in business decision-making and supporting policies of governments wishing to improve their travel and tourism environments.
In addition, the report includes contributions from industry experts. Several chapters explore issues such as how visa facilitation can play a role in stimulating economic growth; the importance for policy-makers to leverage local competitive advantages to thrive in a volatile environment; the impact of the tourism sector on employment creation; and how the connectivity that aviation sector creates sustains economic development.
The report also contains detailed country profiles for the 140 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 covering each indicator used in the Index's computation.
The World Economic Forum produced the report in close collaboration with its Strategic Design Partner, Booz & Company, and its Data Partners, which include Deloitte, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The Forum also received important feedback from Industry Partners in the effort, namely Airbus/EADS, BAE Systems, Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bombardier, Delta, Deutsche Lufthansa/Swiss, Embraer, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, Hilton, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, Safran, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and VISA.