Interesting article from travel mole

06 March, 2008

US ranking in travel continues to plunge

The US dropped to the seventh-most competitive in international travel and tourism, dropping two places from a year ago, according to the Global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2008.

The second annual edition of the report by the World Economic Forum in conjunction with global management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton places Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Australia, Spain and Great Britain ahead of the US, with Sweden, Canada, and France rounding out the top 10.

“The rankings, covering 130 countries, are based on a measurement of over 60 variables that impact a country’s appeal in developing travel and tourism, including statutory regulations, health and safety, infrastructure, local price levels, and environmental and cultural aspects,” says the report known as TTCR.

Reasons for the US’s drop include other countries’ improving their transportation infrastructure and environmental protection efforts.

The researchers expanded the index from the 2007 report in an effort to capture the importance of environmental sustainability for the sector’s development.

The TTCR was developed as a tool to be used to identify the competitive strengths of individual countries as well as the barriers that impede the development of the sector.

The US ranks first for overall business environment and infrastructure, attributed mainly to its ability to meet high capacity air transport and tourism needs, including IT infrastructure.

The country ranks low on price competitiveness, placing 105th out of 130 countries.

With a relatively high number of World Heritage national sites and protected wildlife areas, the US ranks 2nd worldwide in natural resources. However, a perception exists that the country is not sufficiently protecting the environment, ranking 100th for environmental sustainability.

“The low score on this pillar is not only a result of relatively weak regulatory measures to combat global warming, but is also driven by inefficient energy consumption and the relatively high levels of air pollution in major cities,” said Justin Zubrod, Vice President at Booz Allen. He added:

“To attract more tourists in the long term, the US might consider adopting environmental policies that not only preserve natural assets but also change global perceptions about our leadership in environmentalism.”

Safety and security, at 119th place, are also of concern for the US. Aside from high costs associated with business needs for preventing crime and terrorism, the country also has among the highest rates of road traffic incidents.

The openness of US citizens toward foreign visitors is also ranked low, at 114th place. However, prioritization of travel and tourism has gone up from last year, from 47th to 21st place overall, though the industry still contributes only 3.8% to the GDP, compared with 6.3% for top-ranking Switzerland.

Report by David Wilkening