Japan ranks first out of the 117 nations and territories analysed. It is followed by the United States, Spain, France, and Germany. Hong Kong SAR comes in at 19th.
Singapore is ranked 9th in World Economic Forum's (WEF) Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021 (TTDI), generated by “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the travel & tourism (T&T) sector, which in turn contributes to the development of a country". Across the border, Malaysia takes 38th, while Indonesia reaches the 32nd position, Thailand the 36th, Vietnam the 52nd, India the 54th, and the Philippines at 75th. Economic counterpart Hong Kong SAR is ranked closest to Singapore at 19th.
Diverging out, Japan ranks first out of the 117 nations and territories analysed. It is followed by the United States, Spain, France, and Germany. Australia is in top 10, while New Zealand is in top 30.
According to the analysts at WEF, Malaysia and India had the "largest declines" in ranking, while Indonesia achieved the "greatest improvement" in rank. Vietnam, on the other hand, "experienced the greatest improvement in score" which helped its rise up the ranks to 52nd from 60th in the past.
To better understand the Index, it works with a framework that covers five domains: 'enabling environment', 'travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions', 'infrastructure', 'travel & tourism demand drivers', and 'travel & tourism sustainability'. And in each domain, it encapsulates the following:
- For 'enabling environment' - business environment, safety & security, health & hygiene, human resources & labour market, and information & communications technology (ICT) readiness;
- For 'travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions' - prioritisation of travel & tourism, international openness, and price competitiveness;
- For 'infrastructure' - air transport infrastructure, ground & port infrastructure, and tourist service infrastructure;
- For 'travel & tourism demand drivers' - natural resources, cultural resources, and non-leisure resources, and
- For 'travel & tourism sustainability' - environmental sustainability, socioeconomic resilience & conditions, and travel & tourism demand pressure & impact.
These factors translate into an overall score, which ranges from one to seven, with the latter being classified as 'best'. A quick glance, Japan has a score of 5.2 out of seven, while Singapore has a 5.0, Hong Kong SAR a 4.6, Indonesia a 4.4, and both Malaysia and Thailand having a 4.3.
With that in mind, what this Index showed, the analysts explained, is that the need for T&T development has "never been greater" because the sector is "a major driver of economic development, global connectivity and the livelihood of some of the populations and businesses most vulnerable to, and hardest hit by, the pandemic". Therefore, it was suggested that supporting T&T development and recovery will be critical as the support will help the global recovery, build resilience and support all of those who depend on the sector for work.
Further, it was discovered that while the T&T sector "faced difficult operating conditions", there is a shift in "demand dynamics" that is creating opportunities in the realm through domestic and nature-based tourism, the rise of digital nomads, and “bleisure”, an amalgamation of business travel and leisure travel. As such, there is a need for the sector to adapt under these conditions, highlighted in the Index report. Beyond that, T&T stakeholders should look at employing development strategies "to help the sector build back better".
"Amid the current challenges, shifting demand dynamics and future opportunities and risks, a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient sector can be – and needs to be – built," it was explained in the report.
"However, this calls for thoughtful and effective consideration. It also requires leveraging development drivers and strategies, including: restoring and accelerating international openness and consumer confidence, via, for example, improved health and security; building favourable and inclusive labour, business and socioeconomic conditions; focusing more on environmental sustainability; strengthening the management of tourism demand and impact; and investment in digital technology."
The Asia Pacific Index
Based on the findings, the APAC region is the "second-highest performer" in the ranking, with Europe being the first. Of its 20 constituent economies, it was identified that 12 score above the TTDI average, and 13 have improved its score since 2019.
Its performance is mainly attributed to how the region is home to some of the best combinations of natural, cultural and non-leisure resources, although analysts noted that environmental sustainability challenges threaten its lead in the area of nature resources. In addition, those with more developed economies have world-class transport, tourism, healthcare and ICT infrastructure, high levels of international openness and investment in T&T, conducive business environments, high performance for socioeconomic resilience, and qualified & productive workforces.
On the other hand, those with less developed economies have advantage in price competitiveness and rich natural assets that are often offset by gaps in the aforementioned factors such as tourism, healthcare and ICT infrastructure, international openness, and socioeconomic resilience.
"However, these gaps are being bridged somewhat as APAC’s lower-middle-income economies have improved their performance, with particularly strong growth in areas such as ICT readiness," shared in the report.
Image / WEF