Even though Spain, France and Germany continue to top global travel and tourism rankings, Asia steals the show as the region’s largest economies show the greatest rise in tourism-friendliness to travelers, according to a report issued by the World Economic Forum.
Japan is ranked as the fourth top travel destination, moving up five places in this year’s ranking. China is ranked as the 15th, up two places, while India moved up 12 places to become the 40th most attractive tourism destination, according to the World Economic Forum’s global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.
"The rise of Asia’s giants shows that the Asian Tourism Century is becoming a reality,” said Tiffany Misrahi, Community Lead of the Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industries, World Economic Forum. “To reach their potential, the majority of countries still have more to do, from enhancing security, promoting their cultural heritage, building their infrastructure and creating stronger visa policies."
The travel and tourism sector in many countries around the world remains a bright spot in economic and job growth. The global travel and tourism sector accounts for 10% of global GDP, grows faster than other sectors and provides one-in-ten jobs globally. Underpinning this growth is the increasing accessibility and affordability of travel, although environmental challenges remain and many countries under-perform in making technological strides.
The top three in the ranking – Spain, France and Germany – have secured their position thanks to world-class natural and cultural resources, outstanding infrastructure and hospitality services. Traditional strong travel and tourism destinations, including Japan (fourth), the United Kingdom (fifth), the United States (sixth, down two places), Australia (seventh), Italy (eighth), Canada (ninth) and Switzerland (10th), have also made it in the top 10.
"The increasing importance of demand from emerging markets and technology are changing the travel and tourism sector’s landscape at a fast rate," said Roberto Crotti, Economist, World Economic Forum. "The capacity of countries to respond to and embrace these structural shifts will determine the future success of destinations."
While advanced economies still hold the top spots in the ranking, 12 of the top 15 most improved countries are emerging markets. Asia’s largest markets are not only becoming larger source markets but also more attractive destinations.
Almost all of the region’s countries improved their ranking. Except for Japan, Hong Kong (11th, up two), China (15th, up two), Republic of Korea (19th, up 10) and Malaysia (26th) also made it to the top 30.
The increasingly protectionist global context, one that is hindering global trade, is not holding back international travel, the report finds. Travel and tourism’s resilience is clear as the industry continues to build bridges between people and stronger visa policies are being developed to enhance security while facilitating travel.