Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner has hailed Barbadian tourism workers who helped the island to rank second highest in the Caribbean and Latin America in this year’s World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report.
Barbados took the 58th spot out of 136 countries, which put it ahead of such exotic destinations as Sri Lanka and Morocco. It was one of only seven destinations from the region that placed in the index of countries ranked on factors and policies that influence the travel and tourism sector and contribute to a country’s development.
From the wider Caribbean, Mexico led the way in the Geneva-based organization’s 2017 report. Its closest regional competition was Barbados.
“The top Caribbean destination listed is Mexico, followed by this tiny 166 square mile dot called Barbados which functions with a skeleton tourism staff and economic constraints,” Sandiford-Garner posted on her Facebook page over the weekend.
“I tip my hat to our Team Barbados which includes staff in the Tourism Ministry, Barbadians in the hotel sector, taxi drivers and all citizens who work daily to ensure this industry lives.”
Barbados was followed in the rankings by Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic which came within a few points of each other to bag the 69th, 73rd and 76th slots respectively, and placed ahead of big tourist drawing cards like Kenya and the Philippines.
The least popular regional destinations on the list were crime-plagued Honduras in 90th place, and social and political powder keg Venezuela, which took the 104th slot.
Every two years, each country receives a score in categories ranging from hygiene and information technology to safety and security – the latter of which looks at the extent to which a country exposes tourists and business travellers to risks including violence and terrorism. The final rankings are determined by an across-the-board average.
Taking top spot was Spain, which was crowned the world’s most tourist-friendly country on account of its scenic and cultural offerings, along with its superior tourism infrastructure and airline connectivity.
In spite of the terrorist attacks that have plagued France in recent years, it defeated its European rivals to take second place, buoyed in large part by its cultural strengths.
Germany took third place, Japan rocketed into fourth from ninth in 2015, while the UK retained its fifth place originally awarded in 2015.
The United States claimed the sixth spot, followed by Australia at seventh, then Italy, Canada and Switzerland in eighth, ninth and 10th place respectively.
According to the report, the top ten have “successfully created an enabling environment for travel and tourism to thrive by facilitating travel to their nation, promoting their natural and cultural heritage, and ensuring rewarding and hopefully unforgettable experiences for their visitors”.
Europe had the strongest travel and tourism competitiveness in the world, welcoming 1.2 billion international visitors in 2016. Its advantage is attributed to strong health and hygiene standards, cultural richness and safety.
Japan topped the list of the most improved countries, followed by Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. Japan was rated highly due to its unique cultural appeal, while its excellence for business travel was also noted.
War-torn Yemen ranked at the bottom of the report, narrowly preceded by Chad, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.