EAST AFRICAN COUNTRIES RISE IN WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM’S LATEST BIENNIAL REPORT
(Posted 17th April 2017)
The tourism sectors in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya all have some reason to smile as details begin to emerge from the latest edition of the World Economic Forum biennial report as the three countries have made significant progress in various areas of the report’s rankings.
Rwanda emerged in the global top ten countries as far as visitor safety is concerned while Kenya is now ranked third in Africa, edging out Namibia for third place, in terms of tourism and travel competitiveness on the continent.
Uganda has made the greatest advance since the last report was published in 2015, rising eight places to overall to position 106, yet still 26 places behind Kenya, a sign that while much progress has been made in the Pearl of Africa much more needs to be done to raise the country’s profile and competitiveness.
Notably has not one African country made it into the global top 50 overall, again laying down a challenge to the continent’s governments to listen to their tourism sectors and provide a more business and user friendly regime when it comes to tourism.
It also emerged, as repeatedly said here, that airport charges and aviation taxes in 20 of the 30 countries ranked are way above world average, something which makes travel more costly in particular for intra African travel.
The report also singles out ten countries in Africa which have lost over 7 percent of its forest cover from the 2012-2014 report period to the current 2014-2016 report, but again is it Rwanda which has dodged the trend as the country is on course to reach a 30 percent forest cover by the year 2020.
The quoted Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranks 141 countries across 14 separate dimensions, revealing how well countries could deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits through their travel and tourism sector. Spain’s leadership position is helped by a world class ranking in cultural resources (1st globally), its ability to support online searches for entertainment (4th) – a measure of how well the country has adapted to consumption habits brought on by the digital revolution – as well as excellent infrastructure (4th).
Traditional strong travel and tourism destinations such as France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada complete the top 10. Of the large emerging markets, China (17th) and Brazil (28th) made it into the top 30, whereas Russia, South Africa and India ranked 45th, 48th and 52nd, respectively. While this made Brazil and South Africa the best placed in their region, Singapore (11th) came up top in South-East Asia, and the United Arab Emirates (24th) was the highest placed nation in the Middle East and North Africa.
‘The diversity in the top 30 shows that a country does not have to be wealthy to have a flourishing tourism sector‘ said Roberto Crotti, Economist at the World Economic Forum. ‘But many countries should still do more to tackle travel and tourism challenges, including visa policies, better promotion of cultural heritage, environmental protection and ICT readiness. This in turn would drive economic growth and the creation of jobs‘.
The report also identifies areas where tourism-oriented economies could do better in adapting to changing global trends as well as growing market segments. These include a growing number of middle class travellers from emerging and developing countries, senior consumers and millennials. It also finds a need for travel-reliant economies to adapt faster to online services and marketing, as mobile internet continues to define the way travellers select, plan and review their trips.
The global travel and tourism sector, which already accounts for almost one-tenth of global GDP, grew at an average of 3.4% per year over the past four. This compares favourably with the global economy, which grew at only 2.3% per year, indicating the sector’s resilience to economic shocks. In the coming five years, growth in the sector could accelerate to 5.2% per year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The report contains detailed country profiles for the 141 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 that cover each indicator used in the index’s computation.
The World Economic Forum produced the report in collaboration with Strategy& and data partners Bloom consulting, Deloitte, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).