Qatar has beaten countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and fellow Arab countries in the worldwide tourism index, in which it clinched the 37th spot.
Known as the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), the report ranks 130 economies on the basis of 14 variables. The rankings are an integral part of the second Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2008, issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
For the purpose of TTCI, WEF looked into 14 factors, or pillars, namely: policy rules and regulations; environmental sustainability; safety and security; health and hygiene; prioritisation of travel and tourism; air transport infrastructure; ground transport infrastructure; tourism infrastructure; information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure; price competitiveness; human resources, affinity for travel and tourism; natural resources; and cultural resources.
In turn, all 14 variables are placed into three categories of regulatory framework, business environment and infrastructure, and human, cultural and natural resources.
In recognition of the significance of the environment, the 2008 report carried the title of Balancing Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability. Also, six more countries were added to the report, including Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Switzerland retained its top position on the TTCI, to be followed by Austria and Germany, same as in the 2007 report. The other seven countries completing the top ten-list are Australia, Spain, the UK, the US, Sweden, Canada and France.
Still, Hong Kong remained the best tourist destination in Asia, having ranked No 14 worldwide. Singapore ranked No 16.
Qatar’s ranking (No 37) puts it ahead of some famous destinations, including Mauritius (41) and Thailand (42). Qatar scored 4.44 points on a scale ranging from one to seven points. Switzerland scored 5.63 points, the highest achieved by any nation ranked in the report.
According to the report, Qatar achieved its best result (6.2 points out of seven points) with respect to safety and security, in turn part of the regulatory framework. Qatar is ranked No 10 worldwide with respect to security. Undoubtedly, this is a fair assessment, as the country is famous for being a safe haven for workers and visitors alike.
Still, Qatar scored its second best result (5.7 points) on human resources and particularly availability of qualified workers. The report ranks Qatar No 20 worldwide on this variable. This translates into availability of trained staff willing to provide services to tourists and visitors. Undoubtedly, foreign workers are the ones who work in the industry. Qatari nationals primarily work in governmental departments, and make up a minority of its workforce.
On the other hand, Qatar scored a measly 2.2 points on natural resources variable. In reality, Qatar outperforms only nine other nations ranked in the report on this variable. Likewise, Qatar performed poorly on the cultural resources variable by scoring three points on the seven-point scale.
The UAE followed Qatar by occupying 40th spot worldwide. The UAE’s strong points include those of being receptive to foreign travellers and having in place an outstanding air transport infrastructure.
However, the weaknesses lie in environmental sustainability as well as limited natural and cultural resources. Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait occupied 48th, 76th, 82nd, and 85th spots, respectively.
The GCC countries can still improve their rankings partly through encouraging cultural activities for citizens and expatriates. A few need to ease visa regulations also.