If Bhutan’s average ranking on the World Happiness Report burst our happiness bubble, another ranking, this time in global tourism shows the several shortcomings of Bhutan’s tourism sector. Bhutan is ranked 87th out of a 141 countries.
The report titled ‘The Travel and Tourism Report 2015’ is published by the World Economic Forum, and this is the first time that they have included Bhutan in the annual ranking. The report is in its sixth edition.
It says that it provides a platform and benchmarking tool for businesses and governments to develop the tourism sector. It does this by allowing cross-country comparison and benchmarking countries’ progress and informing policies and investment decisions related to the development of the tourism sector.
Unlike other short travel articles the report is a detailed 519 page report with detailed information on all 141 countries and why each country has got a particular ranking.
In doing so the report shows Bhutan’s weakness in areas that related to mainly transport, communication, tourism other infrastructure, tourism products etc.
Vaguely similar to our own GNH index the reports relies on four main sub-indexes further divided into 14 pillars which is further subdivided into 90 individual indicators, distributed among the different pillars.
The overall Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) score is computed through successive aggregations of scores, from the indicator level at the lowest, through the pillar and sub index levels.
Of the four sub indexes the first is ‘Enabling Environment’ sub index which captures the general settings necessary for operating in a country with pillars like business environment, safety and security, health and hygiene, human resources and labour market and ICT readiness.
The second is ‘Tourism and Travel Policy and Enabling Condition’s sub index, which looks at specific policies or strategic aspects that impact the industry more directly and thus consist of pillars like prioritization of travel and tourism, international openness, price competitiveness and environmental sustainability.
The third sub index is Infrastructure, which shows the availability and quality of physical infrastructure of each economy. It consists of pillars like air transport infrastructure, ground and port infrastructure and tourist service infrastructure. These would include quantity and quality of roads, airports, air services, road transport services, hotel rooms, hotel services etc.
The fourth and final sub index is Natural and Cultural Resources, which captures the principal “reasons to travel” and has two pillars which are natural resources and cultural resources and business travel. In short it means the various multi-tourism products like culture, safari, adventure sports, shopping, entertainment etc.
Of the four sub indexes Bhutan is weakest in the Infrastructure and Natural and Cultural Resources category. Out of a nominal score from 1 to 7 Bhutan scores only 2.90 for Infrastructure and is ranked 96th while the country only scores 2.21 for Natural and Cultural Resources and is ranked 81st.
Bhutan scores 4.08 with a 77th rank in Tourism and Travel Policy and Enabling Conditions and a score of 4.58 and rank of 72 in Enabling Conditions.
The report takes into account that in 2013 Bhutan had 116,000 tourists with revenue of USD 63.4 mn. It also says that the average spending per tourist is around USD 546 per tourist.
Of the information or data gathered around two-thirds statistical data is from international organizations, with the remaining third based on survey data from the World Economic Forum’s annual executive opinion survey, which is used to measure concepts that are qualitative in nature carried out among over 15,000 business executives and business leaders annually in all the economies included in the assessment.
The report also points out some important lessons and trends for the tourism sector. It points out that the industry continues to grow more quickly than the global economy as a whole. As proof of its resilience, the analysis shows that the sector’s growth—whether in terms of global air passenger traffic, occupancy rates or international arrivals—tends to return to trend quickly after a shock.
It points out that countries performing more strongly on the TTCI are those that are better prepared to capture the opportunities of new trends, growing demand from emerging and developing countries, the differing preferences of travelers from aging populations, a new generation of younger travelers and the growing importance of online services and marketing, especially through mobile internet.
It is also pointed out that developing the sector provides growth opportunities and social benefits for all countries, regardless of their wealth. It finds that several developing and emerging economies are ranked among the 50 most tourism and travel competitive economies. It says a strong tourism sector translates into job opportunities at all skill levels.
The development of the industry is complex, requiring inter-ministerial coordination and often international and public-private partnerships to overcome financial, institutional and organizational bottlenecks, according to the report.
International tourist arrivals reached a record 1.14 billion in 2014, 51 million more than in 2013, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In 2014 it provided 266 million jobs, directly and indirectly which means that the industry now accounts for one in 11 jobs on the planet