Barbados is now ranked 46th out of 141 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.
However, despite plummeting 18 spots from its ranking in 2013, Barbados remains number one among Caribbean countries that have been assessed in the latest report titled, Growing Through Shocks.
Spain is ranked number one, up from fourth in 2013 and eighth in 2011.
Barbados was ranked 28th in 2011 and 27th in 2013. There were 140 countries in the analysis in 2013 and 139 in 2011.
Regional tourist destinations such as The Bahamas, St Lucia and Dominica were not featured in the analysis, which explores how the travel and tourism sector has responded to economic, security and health shocks over recent decades.
The other Caribbean islands in this year’s index included Trinidad & Tobago, which was ranked 69th overall, Jamaica 76th, Guyana 104th and Haiti 133rd.
Barbados was ranked seventh in the Americas and Caribbean market behind the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. Trinidad and Tobago was ranked 13th in the Americas and the Caribbean and Jamaica ranked 15th.
Published every two years, the report allows for cross-country comparison of the drivers of travel and tourism competitiveness, for benchmarking countries’ policy progress and for making investment decisions related to business and industry development.
It also offers an opportunity for the travel and tourism industry to highlight to national policymakers the challenges to the industry’s competitiveness that require policy attention, and to generate multi-stakeholder dialogue on formulating appropriate policies and action.
A closer look at the break down of some of the areas assessed shows Barbados was ranked fourth among the top ten most tourism ready economies in South and Central America. The top ranked country was Brazil. Barbados was ranked 10th among the countries whose economies prioritize travel and tourism most. The top spot went to Malta.
For ICT readiness Barbados was ranked 41, health and hygiene, 40th; safety and security 44th; business environment 49th. Perhaps the areas which affected Barbados’ ranking the worst were how costly it was to travel or invest in the country and international openness. Barbados was ranked 129th and 80th respectively.
The report noted that in the Caribbean, common travel and tourism issues included further leveraging of natural and cultural resources, air transport infrastructure, and—with some exceptions—improving the capacity for connectivity.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index suggested that most Caribbean economies relied extensively on their famous beaches “but do not seem to sufficiently promote their cultural resources”.
“More efforts in promoting and leveraging their cultural heritage could further improve the travel and tourism competitiveness of these economies, while the lower than expected performance of Caribbean countries on the Natural Resources pillar is partly explained by a lack of UNESCO natural heritage sites and a low percentage of land being officially protected,” it said.
Officials from the tourism industry could not be reached for a comment.
However, chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Alex McDonald told Barbados TODAY that he would have liked if the island was compared with more Caribbean destinations. He said he believed what was critical for the island was to get the information on what the average spend of tourists was.