The biennial World Economic Forum Report compares 140 economies and measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the Travel & Tourism (T&T) sector, which in turn contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.
Driven as in the previous editions by Spain, France, Germany, followed by Japan and the United States, the ranking sees Italy penalized by an unfavorable economic context despite the benefits of world-class natural and cultural resources.
Italy, therefore, confirms the position of 2017, preceded also by Australia, Canada, and Switzerland. As Il Sole24Ore (Italian Economy daily) points out, the study lights up the spotlight this year on the sustainability of tourism, increasingly in the balance under the weight of the growing masses of tourists: arrivals were, beyond all forecasts, more than 1.4 billion in 2018, favorites lower costs and lower barriers than in the past.
The sector is resisting at the moment, but the critical point, in which in the face of arrivals there will be neither the infrastructural capacities nor the adequate management policies to deal with it, is approaching faster than expected.
By contributing 10% of GDP in 2018, the tourism sector is also growing strongly in terms of competitiveness and global employment and this contribution is expected to increase by almost 50% over the next decade thanks to the expansion of the middle class in the world , especially in Asia.
As already mentioned, the strong points of Italy are its natural resources (seventh vs. 140 countries) and cultural (fourth), but the brakes are above all a relatively unfavorable climate for businesses (110th) and low price competitiveness (129th) It is better for tourism infrastructures, but it certainly does not shine for safety and is the third in other important factors such as environmental sustainability, human resources and also for the (poor) priority given to tourism.
Leading the ranking for the business-friendly context is Hong Kong, ahead of Singapore and Switzerland. The safest country is Finland, ahead of Iceland and Oman. For hygiene, the palm goes to Austria, ahead of Germany and Lithuania.
For human resources and the labor market, the USA stands out, ahead of Switzerland and Germany. In terms of technological readiness, the best place is still Hong Kong (Italy is 41st). For price competitiveness, the report gives first place (surprisingly) to Iran, ahead of Brunei and Egypt.
All the major advanced countries are expensive destinations for tourists. Spain, with its 101st position, is confirmed as the most competitive of the main competitors on this front. The black jersey goes to the United Kingdom, followed closely by Switzerland (137th).
On environmental sustainability, the ranking rewards Switzerland, Norway and Austria, while Canada, Australia and the USA rise to the podium (Italy 30th). For infrastructure in tourist services, Portugal ranks first, ahead of Austria, Spain, the USA and Croatia.
For natural resources, the best country is Mexico, followed by Brazil, Australia and China and in ranking Italy is also preceded by France (sixth) and the United States (fifth place). For cultural resources and business trips, China ranks first, ahead of Spain and France.
Malta, Jamaica and Cyprus are on the podium for the priority given to the tourism sector. Eight new economies, included in the current edition, have not been analyzed in the previous report: Angola, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Eswatini, Guinea, Haiti, Liberia and Seychelles.
Four dealt with in the latest report – Barbados, Bhutan, Gabon and Madagascar – are not covered this time due to insufficient data. The 140 economies covered this year represent around 98% of the global T&T GDP.