MANILA, Philippines – The government’s “Its more fun in the Philippines” campaign has bore fruit as the Philippines advanced 12 notches in the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index released on Thursday, March 7.
The country’s ranking improved to 82nd overall out of 140 countries with a score of 3.93 in 2013, making it a ‘rising star’ in the industry and the ‘most improved’ country in the Asia and the Pacific region.
The WEF said the ‘rising stars’ in 2013 are Panama, which climbed from 56th to 37th, and the Philippines, which climbed from 94th to 82nd on the back of policy improvements supporting the industry.
“The Philippines is the most improved country in the region, ranking 16th regionally and 82nd overall, up 12 places since the last edition,” the WEF said. “Government spending on the sector as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is now 1st in the world, and tourism marketing and branding campaigns are seen to be increasingly effective.”
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez recently said at the 2013 Philippine Economic Briefing that the government is spending about P12 billion on tourism-related infrastructure that facilitate access to tourism spots in the archipelago’s over 7,100 islands. An infrastructure-focused fund for the sector has been set up to reach the goal of increasing foreign tourist arrivals to 10 million by 2016.
Almost 4.2 million tourists visited the Philippines in 2012, breaching the 4 million mark for the first time despite the tourism department’s meager budget for marketing and despite the delays in bidding airport projects near tourism spots.
The WEF said the country’s natural resources, price competitiveness, prioritization of the Travel & Tourism industry, and lesser visa requirements for foreign nationals have also contributed to the improvement in the Philippines’ overall performance in the index this year.
Data showed the Philippines’ strengths are:
- Natural resources – 44th
- Price competitiveness – 24th
- Prioritization of the Travel & Tourism industry – 15th
- Few visa requirements for foreign visitors – 7th
“In addition, the country has been ensuring that several aspects of its policy rules and regulations regime are conducive to the development of the T&T sector. Among these are better protection of property rights, more openness toward foreign investments, and few visa requirements for foreign visitors,” WEF said.
However, the WEF said the Philippines would do well to address the following to further improve its ranking in the index:
- Difficulty of starting a business in the country, cost – 94th
- Difficulty of starting a business in the country, length of the process – 117th
- Safety and security concerns – 103rd
- Inadequate health and hygiene – 94th
“Underdeveloped ground transport, tourism, and ICT infrastructure are (also) holding back the potential of the economy’s T&T competitiveness,” WEF said.
The Philippines expect the tourism sector to account for as much as 18% to 20% of the country’s total employment by 2016.
The WEF said the index was topped by Switzerland, Germany and Austria in terms of their travel and tourism industry competitiveness.
The biennial report, published under the theme, Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation, sees considerable movement in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index’s top 10 countries.
Alongside Switzerland and Germany, the United States and Singapore maintained their positions, in sixth and 10th places, respectively. Sweden, the only other country in the top 10 to fall, dropped from fifth to ninth.
Among developed economies, New Zealand and Japan improved strongly; the former climbing to12th from 19th and the latter moving up 8 positions to 14th. Emerging market economies reported mixed levels of progress, with India being the only BRIC nation to move up in the rankings. (BRIC refers to the grouping of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.)
“Industry resilience has been driven by the growth of the middle class in emerging markets, although advanced economies too are displaying positive momentum. Better policies, harnessing technology and facilitating the movement of people over borders will allow the industry to capitalize on this tailwind and support rising prosperity into the future,” WEF Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network Head and Chief Economist Jennifer Blanke said.
The Index covers 140 countries and uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, international travel and tourism institutions and experts. It also incorporates the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the WEF and its network of partner institutes (research institutes and business organizations) in the countries covered by the report. – Rappler.com