South Africa has been named among the top 50 most tourist-friendly countries in the world, in Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum.
The index is a measurement of the factors that make it attractive to develop business in the travel and tourism industry of individual countries, rather than a measure of a country attractiveness as a tourist destination.
This year’s report analysed 141 countries across the globe and saw South Africa take the 48th position- up from 64th position in the 2013-2014 rank.
According to the report, South Africa’s ranking in the top 50 is driven by ‘its rich natural… and cultural… resources, a positive business environment… characterized by little red tape and modest administrative burden and relatively good infrastructure compared to neighboring countries.’
Other positive factors mentioned include the beneficial legacy of the 2010 World Cup, leaving the country with a host of world class stadiums for big events and gatherings, abundance of wildlife, several World Heritage sites and biodiversity.
Health, security and a problematic labour market are highlighted as challenges, while stringent new visa rules are mentioned as a potential stumbling block to investors.
Echoing concerns raised by minister of tourism, Derek Hanekom, recently, the report states ‘the imposition of new immigration laws that also impact visitors… could certainly harm South Africa’s T&T competitiveness going forward.’
A rather sobering observation and one that should be taken extremely seriously.
While South Africa teeters precariously on the edge of the top 50, Europe dominates the top 10, with Spain featuring right at the top of the list.
Receiving 60.6 million arrivals every year, it is the third most visited country in the world and keeps gaining ground. Its beautiful heritage sites, rich culture, good infrastructure and popularity as a host country for conferences, set it apart from the rest.
Here is the full top 10 list:
- United States
- United Kingdom