In the wake of the release of the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, professionals in the Visit USA travel and tourism industry have been scratching their heads in befuddlement over the news in the report that the United States slipped from No. 4 its competitiveness ranking in the last Competitiveness Report in 2015 to No. 6 in the new report. In the way that most news channels reported the findings, however, the shift meant a decline in “popularity.” In reality, the ranking means that, given the complex rating system† that measures 14 different factors, the United States needs to do some work in order to improve its already high standing (6th out of 136 nations studied).
A strong dollar is what really hurt the USA’s overall competitiveness—not its popularity—over the past two years vs. the Euro and other currencies. This is evident in the fact that the USA remain mired in the bottom 25 percent in the category of price competitiveness for the second consecutive report—ranking 106th out of 136 national economies this year vs. 128th out of 138 national economies in the 2015 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report.
Overall, the report presents a strong profile of the United States, although improvement in some areas is needed: “The United States has the most travel-and-tourism competitive economy in the Americas and ranks 6th globally, two places lower than in the previous edition.
“Environmental sustainability performance remains poor (115th, down 1 place), with the country losing some ground on forestry and water management. At the same time, security concerns (84th) relating to terrorism threats, lack of improvement and maintenance of ground infrastructure (26th), and insufﬁcient environmental sustainability need to be addressed. Investing in more modern ground infrastructure and improving environmental protection are, therefore, key to maximizing the development outcomes of the travel and tourism sector in the United States.”
The aim of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index is to provide a comprehensive strategic tool for measuring the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country. By providing detailed assessments of the travel and tourism environments of countries worldwide, the results can be used by all stakeholders to work together to improve the industry’s competitiveness in their national economies. It also allows countries to track their progress over time in the various areas measured.
Key Overall Findings: There are four key findings emerge from the results of the 2017 edition of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report.
—First, travel and tourism competitiveness is improving, especially in developing countries and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. As the industry continues to grow, an increasing share of international visitors are coming from and travel to emerging and developing nations.
—Second, in an increasingly protectionist context—one that is hindering global trade—the T&T industry continues building bridges rather than walls between people, as made apparent by increasing numbers of people travelling across borders and global trends toward adopting less restrictive visa policies.
—Third, in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, connectivity has increasingly become a must-have for countries as they develop their digital strategy.
—Finally, despite the growing awareness of the importance of the natural environment to tourism growth, the travel and tourism sector faces enormous difficulties in developing sustainably, as natural degradation proceeds on a number of fronts.
† The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index Explained: The TCI measures four broad factors of competitiveness. These factors are organized into subindexes, which are further divided into 14 pillars:
The Enabling Environment subindex, which captures the general settings necessary for operating in a country:
- Business Environment
- Safety and Security
- Health and Hygiene
- Human Resources and Labor Market
- ICT Readiness
The Travel and Tourism Policy and Enabling Conditions subindex, which captures specific policies or strategic aspects that impact the T&T industry more directly:
- Prioritization of Travel and Tourism
- International Openness
- Price Competitiveness
- Environmental Sustainability
The Infrastructure subindex, which captures the availability and quality of physical infrastructure of each economy:
- Air Transport Infrastructure
- Ground and Port Infrastructure
- Tourist Service Infrastructure
The Natural and Cultural Resources subindex, which captures the principal “reasons to travel”:
- Natural Resources
- Cultural Resources and Business Travel
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness 2017 Framework
Overall Ranking of 136 Nations
|Economic Rank||Country||Score||Change Since 2015||Economic Rank||Country||Score||Change Since 2015|
|5||United Kingdom||5.2||0||73||Trinidad and Tobago||3.67||-4|
|11||Hong Kong SAR||4.86||2||79||Philippines||3.6||-5|
|25||Iceland||4.5||-7||93||Iran, Islamic Rep.||3.43||4|
|29||United Arab Emirates||4.49||-5||97||Rwanda||3.36||1|
|45||Bulgaria||4.15||4||113||Bosnia and Herzegovia||3.12||n/a|
|63||Saudi Arabia||3.82||1||131||Sierra leone||2.69||1|
|65||Morocco||3.81||-3||133||Congo, Democratic Rep||2.64||n/a|