03/04/08
United Kingdom moves up in rankings for travel and tourism competitiveness

• UK is ranked sixth out of 130 countries measured - an improvement of four points on last year’s ranking of 10th place
• Switzerland, Austria and Germany take top three places for the second time
• Environmental sustainability is a new category for 2008

London, 4 March 2008 — Switzerland, Austria and Germany hold the three top places in the second annual Global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report (TTCR), put together by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in conjunction with the international strategy and technology consultants Booz & Company and other partners.

The UK came in 6th place after Australia in 4th and Spain in 5th position.

“Although the UK’s improvement reflects a good performance in areas such as environmental sustainability [10th] and air transport infrastructure [4th] there are still causes for concern,” said Adrian Foster, Vice-President, Booz & Company. “The comparatively low ranking of 65th for safety and security is unlikely to reassure travellers. Also, the UK’s ranking of only 75th in terms of openness to foreign visitors is particularly worrying with the Olympics taking place in London in 2012. The UK also needs to improve on price competitiveness, as at 127th it is one of the most expensive countries to visit.”

With an influx of tourists expected into China for the Olympics this year its ranking of 62nd is noteworthy. Its third and fifth rankings for natural and cultural sites are impressive but tourism infrastructure remains highly undeveloped with few international car rental companies and ATMs operating and not many hotel rooms available. Equally, its 121st ranking for openness to foreign visitors is also a concern.

Australia has jumped nine places to 4th position this year. It is ranked first for the number of its natural World Heritage sites and 4th for its cultural sites. Given the importance of its natural environment as a tourist attraction it is encouraging that the level of enforcement of environmental protection is high. At the same time air infrastructure is good making it comparatively easy for a tourist to cover the huge distances between sites.

New: Environmental Sustainability

A new Environmental Sustainability category has been introduced for 2008. The travel and tourism industry now widely accepts that countries with strong measures aimed at protecting the environment will become the most competitive in the sector. This is clear from the rankings as countries with a good environmental record tend to be competitive overall. The top ten for environmental sustainability are all in western Europe, with Sweden leading the field.

"Customers are increasingly demanding ‘green’ tourism services and global private travel and tourism players have a growing need to pick up this opportunity and promote destinations that follow a long-term environmentally sustainable strategy," said Adrian Foster.

Prosperity for Emerging Threshold Countries

A further finding is that the travel and tourism sector is a key driver for prosperity in emerging threshold countries such as Tunisia (39th) and Egypt (66th) and for developing countries like India (65th). These nations can increase their competitiveness in this sector considerably through investment in their infrastructure and a fundamentally supportive legislative framework.

Economy

Rank

Score

Switzerland

1

5.63

Austria

2

5.43

Germany

3

5.41

Australia

4

5.34

Spain

5

5.30

United Kingdom

6

5.28

United States

7

5.28

Sweden

8

5.27

Canada

9

5.26

France

10

5.23


Top-Ten Rankings of the “Environmental Sustainability” Pillar

Economy
Rank
Score
Sweden
1
6.12
Switzerland
2
5.90
Denmark
3
5.88
Germany
4
5.82
France
5
5.75
Norway
6
5.69
Finland
7
5.62
Austria
8
5.57
Netherlands
9
5.56
United Kingdom
10
5.56

Ends

The TTC Report studied 130 countries around the world drawing on more than 60 variables. These took into account elements such as the statutory regulatory framework, health and safety, infrastructure, the local price level, and aspects relating to the environment and culture. Data from international travel and tourism organizations supplemented these variables, as did the opinions of experienced industry experts. Values taken from the Forum’s regularly-conducted “Executive Opinion Survey” rounded off this analysis. The TTC Report is available at: http://www.weforum.org/en/initiatives/gcp/TravelandTourismReport/index.htm