International arrivals in 1950 rolled in at 25 million. In 2016, that number was toppling over 1.2 billion. The travel and tourism industry has boomed with the advent of technology, transportation, a sweeping trend of wanderlust and an undeniable impact on the global economy.
Travel and tourism account for 1 in 10 jobs on the planet, making the industry one of the major drivers of global economic growth, and placing every move it makes toward growth, expansion, change and sustainability under the careful scrutiny.
Who are the big players?
The major players by region and rank are Europe and Eurasia, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
How are the big players evaluated?
The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) ranks global players on the following criteria:
- Business environment
- Safety and security
- Health and Hygiene
- Human resources and labour markets
- ICT readiness
T&T Policy and Enabling Conditions
- Prioritization of travel and tourism industry
- International openness
- Price competitiveness
- Environmental sustainability
- Air transport infrastructure
- Ground and port infrastructure
- Tourist service infrastructure
Natural and cultural resources
- Natural resources
- Cultural resources and business travel
The big players are successful thanks to the efforts and contributions of their countries and sub-regions. Per the reigning region, the beneficial or lagging qualities vary and sway in different directions. Countries that are doing well in one or some areas such as price effectiveness and sustainability can still benefit from improving safety. Each region’s countries can take note of successful efforts by its neighbors and together, create an overall more sustainable travel and tourism landscape. No region has all criteria at an optimal position, allowing a huge opportunity for growth in many developing and undeveloped parts of the world.
Let’s take a look at the world’s second-leader in overall travel and tourism competitiveness: the Americas, and more specifically: Latin America.
North, Central and South America possess varying strong suits and each has room for improvement. Overall, the Americas have four countries in top 30 (as opposed to Europe and Eurasia’s six in the top 10): USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil. North America excels in safety and security, but can improve its infrastructure, sustainability and price competitiveness.
Central and South America have considerable efforts in several competitiveness categories, including international openness and use of natural resources. However, they are still lacking in safety and security, leading to an overall slippage in tourism attractiveness, especially for companies looking into international business growth and development.
That said, Central and South America comprise the greater half the Americas region, which ranks second worldwide for overall travel and tourism competitiveness. In 2015, Latin America contributed over 371.8 billion U.S. dollars to the region’s GDP, compared to a total 7.17 trillion U.S. dollars contributed to worldwide GDP. This number is expected to rise to 600 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.
Central and South America on the Rise
What these two sub-regions of the Americas might be lacking in perceived security and safety compared to their northern neighbor, they make up for in price competitiveness, cultural and natural resources. Below are the ways Latin America is inching its way toward a competitive TTCI player.
Tourist service infrastructure
These regions excel in hospitality and accommodating tourists needs. Some elements of infrastructure can certainly improve, but Central America has made strides in development in ground infrastructure. South America, on the other hand, has shown poor development in ground transportation, which severely impacts tourists ability to travel the countries.
Central and Latin America are rich in natural and cultural resources, but they do not protect them as much as they potentially could. For example, South America has made huge efforts to create natural resorts and cultural experiences to entice tourists, exploiting their resources in a safe, protected way. Central America has a history of throwing most of its emphasis on the beach and relevant activities, potentially damaging and draining the resources over time.
Mexico and Brazil show two of the top global performances in travel and tourism competitiveness, largely in part to their abundance of natural resources.
These subregions of the Americas have a history of being internationally openness. Most governments in Latin regions comprehend the economic significance of travel and tourism in their countries (tourism accounts for 1 in every ten jobs on the planet; one new job is created for every 30 new tourists that visit a destination), so they support efforts and opportunities available to travelers, tourists, expats and businesses as they create a more fertile economic and job environment at home.
What is holding countries back?
Below are a few efforts that hinder Latin America’s global travel and tourism competitiveness and stand as questions for all countries, subregions and regions to tackle as they enrich an industry that accounts for 10 percent of the world population’s employment.
Efforts toward safety
Mexico is a great example of a country rising in competitiveness, thanks to efforts taken in tourism prioritization and use of cultural and natural resources, but that is stunted in its growth due to perceptions of poor safety. As the world pushes toward building bridges instead of walls, there is a giant demand for safety and security infrastructure. Tourists must feel safe enough to travel to a country and be safe enough throughout a visit to encourage positive change in the country’s reputation.
Climate change, environmental protection and resources efficiency are critical to the travel and tourism industry as massive resource exploitation is nearly inevitable in fueling the industry. Tourists fly and drive and carry their footprints into many heavily untouched parts of the world. By 2050, the industry aims to reduce the net CO2 emissions by half as compared to 2005. If efforts are not taken by each sub-region and country, environmental damage can cause a cease in growth to the industry overall.
Competitiveness will continue to grow
As sub-regions such as Latin America develop, they are producing faster-growing tourist expenditures than those of highly developed economies. As more countries within competing regions improve their travel and tourism standards and efforts, the more competitively these world regions can play in the industry.
Competing effectively helps offset a hypothetically monopolizing tourism destination and requires that all parties involved improve travel and tourism standards. This constant climb toward a higher goal has an impactful ripple effect on world economic and environmental sustainability and growth.
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In order for tourism to remain competitive, it must remain critically and holistically aware of its influence on and contribution to the world’s economic and environmental health.
As a part of this globally influential industry, Southern Hospitality is proud to share up-to-date and vital information with you as you create safe, sustainable and unforgettable tourism experiences for clients.
To learn more about what we offer and how to work most effectively with South America hoteliers and concierge services, reach out to our team, today.