Do they ever get out of Davos?


On March 1 the World Economic Forum (WEF) based in Davos, Switzerland announced its inaugural survey on worldwide travel and competitiveness.  Not surprisingly, European countries dominate the list of twenty most competitive nations when it comes to travel and tourism.  I would venture to guess that the Swiss-based WEF was a bit biased when it ranked Switzerland at the top of the list.  If you’ve ever traveled in Switzerland on a limited budget, you’ll probably remember a few moments when you told yourself, "Why is it so expensive here?" or wonder why it feels so darn sterile.  I’m also surprised that the WEF considers the United States the fifth most competitive nation.  Considering the U.S.’s size, diversity, and the fact that it beat out usual suspects Sweden, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, among others, the United States could quite possibly be the world’s most competitive nation in terms of travel and tourism if geographic factors are taken into consideration.  If you’ve ever stayed in Europe at a budget motel with chipped marble, aged Renaissance-era, faux-baroque furnishings, and corroded pipes, you’ll understand why the average U.S. hotel beats a European hotel any day.
 
This survey piqued my interest because I wondered where our past destination, Korea, and our future destination, Paraguay, ranked in this survey.  They were listed as #42 and #111, respectively.  In East Asia, Korea is less competitive than #25 Japan and #30 Taiwan, R.O.C., but it is more competitive than #72 China.  The Korea Tourism Organization might agree, because it is constantly wondering how to get more tourists to pay attention to Korea.  Surprisingly, China is less competitive than #65 India, which I find hard to believe given India’s infrastructure woes and inadequate lodging options
 
In South America, Paraguay finished last in terms of competitiveness in travel and tourism.  This is not surprising until one considers that Bolivia (#109) and Guyana (#100) finished ahead of Paraguay.  Guyana?  In addition, the WEF ranked Tajikistan just ahead of Paraguay (#110).  When one considers that the U.S. Department of State’s hardship differential for Paraguay is 10% and 35% for Tajikistan and that Tajikistan’s increased from 25% to 35% in 2006, one must conclude that the WEF’s survey results are inconclusive or that they only apply to short-term tour and travel (hardship differential represents the perceived hardship of a locale relative to life in the United States).  Fortunately, the WEF had the common sense not to rank Chad (#124) higher than dead last on its list…at least this year.
 
We will be on tour in Paraguay, albeit for two years.  I was disappointed to see it ranked so low.  I feel defensive when it comes to Paraguay, and I’ve never been there.  It really can’t be that bad, can it?  Sometimes–not always–a tourist destination is what you make it.  You can have a good trip or a bad trip depending on your own attitude.  Sure, Paraguay might not be on the top of my list of must-see tourist havens, but then again, neither are many of the countries listed ahead of Paraguay.  Regardless of what the prognosticators in Davos think as they analyze the world from their ivory towers, sipping their glasses of 1993 Bordeaux Château d’Eau Contraire as they listen to the sounds of yodeling emanating from their sauve Alpine valleys, I’m planning to enjoy the country as much as I possibly can.
 
For more information on the results of this survey, visit:  
 
 

Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index

 

Rank

Country/economy

Score

1

Switzerland

5.66

2

Austria

5.54

3

Germany

5.48

4

Iceland

5.45

5

United States

5.43

6

Hong Kong SAR

5.33

7

Canada

5.31

8

Singapore

5.31

9

Luxembourg

5.31

10

United Kingdom

5.28

11

Denmark

5.27

12

France

5.23

13

Australia

5.21

14

New Zealand

5.20

15

Spain

5.18

16

Finland

5.16

17

Sweden

5.13

18

United Arab Emirates

5.09

19

Netherlands

5.08

20

Cyprus

5.07

21

Belgium

5.07

22

Portugal

5.05

23

Norway

5.04

24

Greece

4.99

25

Japan

4.99

26

Malta

4.96

27

Ireland

4.93

28

Estonia

4.90

29

Barbados

4.86

30

Taiwan, China

4.82

31

Malaysia

4.80

32

Israel

4.80

33

Italy

4.78

34

Tunisia

4.75

35

Czech Republic

4.75

36

Qatar

4.71

37

Slovak Republic

4.68

38

Croatia

4.66

39

Mauritius

4.63

40

Hungary

4.61

41

Costa Rica

4.60

42

Korea, Rep.

4.58

43

Thailand

4.58

44

Slovenia

4.58

45

Chile

4.58

46

Jordan

4.52

47

Bahrain

4.45

48

Jamaica

4.41

49

Mexico

4.38

50

Dominican Republic

4.35

51

Lithuania

4.34

52

Turkey

4.31

53

Latvia

4.31

54

Bulgaria

4.31

55

Panama

4.28

56

Uruguay

4.28

57

Morocco

4.27

58

Egypt

4.24

59

Brazil

4.20

60

Indonesia

4.20

61

Serbia and Montenegro

4.18

62

South Africa

4.18

63

Poland

4.18

64

Argentina

4.18

65

India

4.14

66

Georgia

4.13

67

Kuwait

4.08

68

Russian Federation

4.03

69

Guatemala

4.00

70

Botswana

3.99

71

China

3.97

72

Colombia

3.96

73

Namibia

3.95

74

Armenia

3.93

75

Azerbaijan

3.92

76

Romania

3.91

77

El Salvador

3.90

78

Ukraine

3.89

79

Sri Lanka

3.89

80

Tanzania

3.86

81

Peru

3.86

82

Kazakhstan

3.81

83

Macedonia, FYR

3.81

84

Gambia

3.81

85

Trinidad and Tobago

3.79

86

Philippines

3.79

87

Honduras

3.78

88

Vietnam

3.78

89

Nicaragua

3.76

90

Albania

3.75

91

Mongolia

3.72

92

Mauritania

3.71

93

Algeria

3.67

94

Zambia

3.66

95

Moldova

3.65

96

Cambodia

3.64

97

Ecuador

3.64

98

Kenya

3.62

99

Venezuela

3.62

100

Guyana

3.56

101

Uganda

3.56

102

Kyrgyz Republic

3.54

103

Pakistan

3.52

104

Bosnia and Herzegovina

3.51

105

Mali

3.50

106

Nepal

3.49

107

Zimbabwe

3.48

108

Suriname

3.47

109

Bolivia

3.46

110

Tajikistan

3.46

111

Paraguay

3.44

112

Madagascar

3.44

113

Burkina Faso

3.41

114

Malawi

3.31

115

Nigeria

3.30

116

Benin

3.28

117

Ethiopia

3.26

118

Cameroon

3.25

119

Mozambique

3.23

120

Bangladesh

3.21

121

Lesotho

3.12

122

Angola

2.89

123

Burundi

2.88

124

Chad

2.68

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