The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2017 has been released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) under the theme, “Paving the Way for a More Sustainable & Inclusive Future”. This theme reflects the increasing focus on ensuring the industry’s sustained growth in an uncertain security environment while preserving the natural environment and local communities on which it so richly depends.
According to the report, Botswana continues to improve in both the ranking and quality score, it is ranked 85th out of 136 countries compared to 88th out of 141 countries in 2016. This shows an improvement of three places up in the ranking. The quality score improved from 3.4 (out of 7) to 3.5 previously.
The country’s specific policies and strategic aspects that impact the industry more directly have been doing well over the years, these include; the country’s ability to sustain the environment (36th), its effort to prioritize travel and tourism (29th) and price competitiveness (13th). The country’s ability to conserve its natural resources is evident from the rankings (50th). The country’s business environment is also ranked favorably well (30th), though the extent of market dominance and time taken to start a business in the country still a challenge.
In its effort to diversify the economy the government continues to prioritise certain economic activities, which have benefited the travel and tourism industry. This is evident from the Report, as previously Botswana was ranked number 46th for prioritising the travel and tourism sector and in the current Report it is ranked 29th. The country has also intensified its marketing and branding strategies to attract tourists – this has resulted in an improved ranking in this area from 68th to 33rd this year).
The country still benefits from its excellent price competitiveness, where it is ranked 13th. Low ticket taxes and airport charges are ranked 2nd, with hotel prices considered to be competitive, ranked 23rd. There has been some drop in the ranking for the purchasing power and fuel price levels.
The 2017 Report shows that the country’s environmental sustainability is ranked 36th. The total percentage of threatened species continues to be very low and the sustainability of Travel and Tourism development also continue to be viewed favorably. As such Botswana is among the top 50 countries that are able to enforce less stringent environmental regulations.
Of continued concern is that the country is still struggling in terms of infrastructure. The Air Transport Infrastructure remains ranked very low (88th). The availability of international seats per kilometers is considered among the worst in the world together with the number of available airlines in the country (with rankings of 132nd and 130th respectively). The ground infrastructure, though with a slight improvement, still ranks poorly at 89th in the current Report compared to 105th in previous report.
The component of Human Resource and the Labour Market Pillar has been improving in recent years, as it is ranked 72nd this year compared to100th in the previous Report. There has been some improvement in the extent of staff training by companies and the degree of customer orientation is also improving even though at a very slow pace. The Report shows that it is still not easy to find skilled employees, as well as to hire foreign labour in Botswana.
The Sub-Saharan Africa region showcases South Africa (53rd), Mauritius (55th), Kenya (80th) and Namibia (82nd) as its four most Travel and Tourism competitive economies. Despite sustained economic growth, Travel and Tourism remains mostly untapped. Air connectivity, travel costs, visa polices and infrastructure remain the key challenges. While tourism in the region is mainly driven by natural resources, there is significant room for improvement in protecting, valuing and communicating cultural richness.
Globally, Spain tops in the 2017 rankings for the second time, followed by France (2nd), Germany (3rd), Japan (4th-gaining five places), the United Kingdom (5th), the United States (6th – losing two places), Australia (7th), Italy (8th), Canada (9th- up one) and Switzerland (10th- losing four places). According to the World Economic Forum, travel & tourism and its enabling ecosystem in the past have proven to be significant drivers of economic growth, contributing over 10% to global GDP and accounting for 1 in 10 jobs on the planet. The industry continues to be a force for good, providing unique opportunities for developing and emerging nations to move up the value chain.