Brazil, in 49th place, is the Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay) country best ranked in the second annual Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2008, released by the World Economic Forum. Top of the list figure Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Australia, Spain and the UK.
Mercosur countries do not figure among the most attractive environments for developing the travel and tourism industry, according to the report. Costa Rica is Latin America's top ranking country followed by Chile, 51, Mexico, 55, Argentina, 58 and Uruguay, 61.
"The dependence of tourism on the quality of the natural environment leads national governments and the tourism industry to focus increasingly on environmental protection," said Thea Chiesa, head of Aviation, Travel and Tourism at the World Economic Forum.
In this context, this year's Report, under the theme Balancing Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability, places a particular focus on the issue, both through a reinforced environmental component of the Index used to measure travel & tourism (T&T) competitiveness and through topics covered by the analytical chapters.
Improvements have been made to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) this year. The "environmental regulation" pillar has been revised and improved as well as being re-named the "environmental sustainability" pillar to better reflect its components and to capture the increasingly recognized importance of sustainability in the sector's development.
Also, last year's single pillar – natural and cultural resources – has been broken into its two subcomponents to create the two distinct pillars of "natural resources" and "cultural resources".
This provides a more nuanced and useful description of the strengths and weaknesses of countries. The model also uses better data proxies for some variables and includes a number of new concepts that were previously missing.
The TTCI measures the factors and policies that make it attractive to develop the T&T sector in different countries. It is composed of 14 pillars of travel and tourism competitiveness: Policy rules and regulations, Environmental sustainability, Safety and security, Health and hygiene, Prioritization of travel and tourism, Air transport infrastructure, Ground transport infrastructure, Tourism infrastructure, Information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, Price competitiveness, Human capital, Affinity for travel & tourism, Natural resources and Cultural resources.
The rankings cover 130 countries around the world. The TTCI uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, international T&T institutions and T&T experts, as well as the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum, together with its network of Partner Institutes (leading research institutes and business organizations) in the countries included in the Report. The Survey provides unique data on many qualitative institutional and business environment issues.
"Our study is not a 'beauty contest' on the attractiveness of a country. Rather, we aim to measure the factors that make it attractive to develop the travel and tourism industry of individual countries. The top-ranked countries demonstrate the importance of supportive business and regulatory frameworks, coupled with world-class transport and tourism infrastructure and a focus on nurturing human and natural resources," said Jennifer Blanke, Senior Economist of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Network
"Over the past three years, the World Economic Forum has engaged key industry and thought leaders through its Aviation, Travel & Tourism Industry Partnership Program to carry out an in-depth analysis of the T&T competitiveness of economies around the world.
The goal is to construct a platform for multistakeholder dialogue to ensure the development of strong and sustainable national T&T industries capable of contributing effectively to international economic development," noted Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) President Jean-Claude Baumgarten said: "The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report creates a platform for dialogue among all stakeholders, which is invaluable in a world where competitiveness is no longer a government-driven process but has reshaped into a bilateral process between the public and private sectors.
"The report assists both sectors in identifying their strengths and their weaknesses, in order to outline an approach for attaining long-lasting and sustainable tourism from a global perspective. The completion of this report complements the aims and objectives of the WTTC."
"This year's Index focuses on the importance of sustainability in tourism. There has been much debate about the responsibilities of governments, of businesses and of individuals towards climate change. Naturally, the tourism industry is in the spotlight. The long-haul flights that bring tourists to countries around the world, plus their use of hotel accommodation, add to the ongoing debate about the impact travel is having on climate change. The time is right for the hotel industry to make sure its own house is in order," said Alex Kyriakidis, Global Managing Partner of Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure at Deloitte.