The Philippines has several World Heritage Sites and many other attractions both natural and man-made. With friendly people and rich biodiversity, the country can become a top travel destination. The Philippines saw an improvement in its travel and tourism competitiveness ranking in the latest report prepared by the World Economic Forum, rising to 74th place from 82nd in 2013. But the country can do much better.
Placing 74th out of 141 countries is an improvement, but the Philippines ranks way behind several of its Asian neighbors, including the four other founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Tiny Singapore placed 11th, followed by Malaysia at 25th, Thailand at 35th and Indonesia at 50th. At least the Philippines ranked a notch ahead of other ASEAN members Vietnam and Cambodia.
The travel industry is big business, as the world’s most tourism-ready countries are showing. The WEF report ranked Spain as the most tourism-ready nation, followed by France, Germany, the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan and Canada.
These countries share many common travel elements. The tourism infrastructure is there, making it comfortable, easy and relatively safe under normal circumstances for travelers to visit and see the sights. Their transportation infrastructure and services, whether on ground, air or water, are efficient and generally safe. And while they may not have the world’s best airports, they have extensive air connectivity, with numerous secondary airports allowing direct flights from other countries. They have sufficient and reasonably priced accommodations to fit all types of budgets.
Tourism can generate meaningful jobs and spur economic development outside urban centers. With eco-tourism gaining ground, the travel industry can also help preserve endangered species and ecosystems. The country’s improvement in its tourism competitiveness ranking is welcome news, but there’s still much more that can be done. Developing the travel and tourism industry must be given greater priority.