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MANILA – The Philippines lagged behind most of its Asean peers in terms of travel and tourism competitiveness because of poor infrastructure and security, according to the World Economic Forum.
In its Asean Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2012, WEF said the Philippines ranked 94th among 139 countries in the world, scoring 3.7 points in the overall travel and tourism competitiveness index.
Among Asean countries, the Philippines trailed Singapore, which landed on 10th place; Malaysia, 35th; Thailand, 41st; Brunei Darrusalam, 67th; Indonesia, 74th; and Vietnam, 80th.
Only Cambodia, at 109th place, ranked lower than the Philippines.
The report said Cambodia and the Philippines trailed the rest of the region, which is reflected in their performance on individual pillars of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.
The rankings are based on data covering 14 areas: policy rules and regulations; environmental sustainability; safety and security; health and hygiene; prioritization of travel and tourism; air transport infrastructure; ground transport infrastructure; tourism infrastructure; ICT infrastructure; price competitiveness; human resources; affinity for travel and tourism; natural resources; and cultural resources.
Cambodia is the poorest performing Asean country in seven pillars of the index, while the Philippines ranks no higher than 65th in 13 pillars.
The Philippines fared poorly in ground transport infrastructure at 114th place; safety and security, 109th; tourism infrastructure and ICT infrastructure, both at 98th; health and hygiene, 97th; and environment sustainability, 94th.
The country however placed 20th worldwide in terms of price competitiveness.
The WEF report said the Philippines recorded 3.91 million international tourist arrivals, with ourism receipts worth $2.78 billion. This is lower than Malaysia's arrivals of 24.71 million, Thailand’s 19.09 million, Singapore’s 10.39 million, Indonesia’s 7.65 million, and Vietnam’s 6.01 million.
Switzerland tops the TTCI rankings, followed by Germany and France.
The report said inadequate infrastructure in vast swaths of the region remains a significant obstacle to the development of not only the travel and tourism sector but the private sector in general.
"A second area of concern is the poor public health situation, alarming in some parts of Asean, where inadequate sanitary infrastructure and poor hygiene result in poor health outcomes. Unhealthy conditions are an inconvenience for tourists, but for the society at large, they are a major issue requiring urgent attention," WEF said.
Thierry Geiger, WEF economist and lead author of the study, said what is good for the travel and tourism sector is good for the economy and vice-versa.
“Beyond cultural and natural heritage, the underlying drivers of T&T development are often the same as those of other sectors. Think of quality infrastructure, the ease of setting up a business, the absence of crime, or the availability of a healthy workforce," Geiger said.
The travel and tourism sector plays an important role in the overall Asean economy, which is estimated to account for 4.6 percent of the region’s gross domestic product and 10.9 percent when taking into account all indirect contributions.
It directly employs 9.3 million people, or 3.2 percent of total employment, and indirectly supports 25 million jobs.
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