The UAE remains the highest ranked country in the Middle East for tourism competitiveness despite falling four places in WEF list
The UAE remains the highest ranked country in the Middle East for tourism competitiveness despite falling four places, according to the World Economic Forum.
Its latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report (TTCR), which ranks 140 countries on their relative strengths in global tourism and travel, ranked the UAE 33rd.
The 2019 index reveals the global tourism sector’s resilience, but warns of an approaching ‘tipping point’, where factors such as less expensive travel and fewer tourist barriers increase demand to unsustainable levels.
Given that international tourist arrivals surpassed 1.4 billion in 2018, beating predictions by two years, this tipping point may be approaching sooner than expected, the Forum said in a statement.
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), 12 of the 15 countries in the region increased their score from the last report.
"Despite progress, this region still falls below the global average largely due to lower natural and cultural resources and low international openness," the report said.
It added that the UAE remains the highest scoring country in the region, with its high ranking in ICT readiness and overall infrastructure boosting its score.
Saudi Arabia (69), which fell six places, has the largest travel and tourism GDP within the region, but its competitiveness is undermined by a lack of international openness, something that it is starting to address.
It has recently held a number of high profile sporting events and is looking to issue its first tourist visas soon as it seeks to attract more international visitors.
The report also said that Oman (58) rose eight places and ranks third globally for safety and security.
The top 10 TTCR scoring countries, led by Spain, France and Germany, account for over a third of international arrivals, while the top 25 percent of countries account for over two-thirds of arrivals.
"This combination of concentration of tourist arrivals and rapid travel growth is putting strain on travel hotspots, despite relatively high infrastructure and travel services scores," the report noted.
Among the top 10 countries, the UK (6) was the only country to fall in the rankings. It now sits under the increasingly competitive United States, thanks to a decline in online searches for its natural and cultural resources and a weaker business environment.
“With travel barriers and travel costs declining, many countries have been significantly increasing their competitive position in global tourism,” said Christoph Wolff, head of mobility at the World Economic Forum. “Countries can leverage this opportunity to generate economic and development returns, but they must address gaps in infrastructure and environmental protection to make sure these returns can be achieved over the long-term.“
Representing 98 percent of global travel and tourism GDP, the 140 economies are ranked in four sub-indexes - enabling environment, travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources. Together, these four sub-indexes include a total of 14 pillars which are used to score a country’s overall travel and tourism competitiveness.