The world travel & tourism industry has been witnessing astonishing growth in recent years with the industry’s contribution to world economy being over 10% of the global GDP in 2016 alone – that’s a staggering $7.6 trillion – creating over 290 million jobs in the process.
What’s even more encouraging is that the upward trend is expected to continue for some time to come. It is a great opportunity for countries to rake in the ‘moolah’ by adopting tourist-centric policies.
So, how do we know which countries are most suited for touring and which are the ones to strike off the visit list?
The question is best answered by the World Economic Forum which ranks the travel and tourism competitiveness of 136 countries every two years. The WEF 2017 Report ranks Spain the number one country for tourism while war-torn Yemen is ranked 136 – the most unfriendly country among the 136 surveyed.
The report explains that the top 10 ranked countries “successfully created an enabling environment for travel and tourism to thrive by facilitating travel to their nation, promoting their natural and cultural heritage, and ensuring rewarding and hopefully unforgettable experiences for their visitors.”
The ranking method takes into account categories like Hygiene, Safety, Security, Information Technology, etc. Every country is scored separately in each category with the average determining a country’s final ranking.
Let’s take a look at the 3 best countries for tourism that World Economic Forum has identified in 2017
Spain (Rank: 1)
Spain’s travel and tourism sector contribute about 11% of Spain’s GDP to its national economy. The country has been a popular summer destination for tourists since the 1960s, particularly for tourists from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux (Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg).
Spain has the distinction of being the third most visited country in the world in 2016 with 75.3 million tourists visiting that year.
While Spain’s national airline is Iberia tourists and visitors can fly in on many international airlines and chartered services.
Tourists can also enter Spain through surface routes like road, rail, and water.
Road and rail services in Spain
Freeways in Spain not only interconnect cities but are also linked to the French freeway network.
The main train operator is RENFE, including AVE (Spanish high-speed train) or Talgo intercity services
A number of high-end tourism oriented hotel-train services, such as Transcantábrico are also available
Area: 505,990 sq.km
Population: 46.42 million (2015)
Capital City: Madrid
Official Language: Spanish
Major ports: Barcelona, Valencia, Las Palmas, Port of Málaga, Port of Algeciras, and Port of Gijón.
Some Interesting facts about Spain
- The Kingdom of Spain, as it’s officially known, is the second largest country in the EU
- The population of just under 47 million is the sixth largest in Europe
You can enjoy a meal in the oldest restaurant in the world in Spain’s capital, Madrid
- Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world
- Spain was once a number of separate kingdoms with different languages
- Spain is the country of fiestas, with hundreds of festivals taking place throughout the year
- Only half of all adults aged 15–64 have the equivalent of a high school degree
- Spain has 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Spain produces over half of the world’s olive oil
- The United Nations projects that Spain will be the world’s oldest country by 2050
- Spain was the first country in the world where wind power was the greatest source of electricity
- Spain is a constitutional monarchy
- The Spanish are a tolerant society
- Female entrepreneurs set up 40 percent of all new businesses in Spain
- Spain has the fourth highest life expectancy in all the OECD countries
- The Spanish national football team topped the FIFA World rankings for five consecutive years
- There is only one tax inspector for every 1,928 taxpayers
- Only 13.6 percent of Spain’s population actually goes to church on Sundays
- Spain has Europe’s biggest wealth gap
France (Rank: 2)
The southern neighbor of the most tourist-friendly nation in the world is France, incidentally, number 2 on that World Economic Forum list.
Located on the Western edge of Europe, France shares its political borders with Belgium and Luxembourg in the northeast, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy in the east, and Monaco, Spain, and Andorra in the south.
Geographically, it borders the North Sea to the north, the English Channel in the northwest, the Bay of Biscay in the west, and the Mediterranean Sea in the south.
France is connected to the UK by the Channel Tunnel under the English Channel since 1994. The submerged rail tunnel spans 50.5 kilometers connecting Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, near Calais in northern France with Folkestone in Kent, UK.
Area: 643,801 sq. km
Population: 66.6 million (2016) inclusive of 2.1 million people living in its overseas regions
Capital City: Paris is the capital and the largest city in the country.
Airports: Paris -Charles de Gaulle Airport, is the largest international airport in France while the Paris-Orly Airport is the busiest domestic airport.
Official Language: French
Seaports: The largest port is Marseille, followed by Le Havre, Dunkirk, and Nantes/Saint-Nazaire.
Some Interesting Facts about France
- France is the largest country in the EU and known as ‘the hexagon’
- Liberté, égalitié, fraternité meaning ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’
(or brotherhood) is the national motto of France
- Europe’s highest mountain is in the French Alps
- Louis XIX was the king of France for just 20 minutes, the shortest ever reign
- In France, you can marry a dead person
- About one million French people living near the border with Italy speak Italian
- The French eat around 30,000 tons of snails a year
- France was the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food
- The oldest recorded human voice is French
- The Académie Française has aimed to preserve the French language since 1634
- The first public screening of a movie was by French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière on 28 December 1895
- The Louvre Museum in Paris was the most visited museum in the world in 2014
- The French Army was the first to use camouflage in 1915 (World War I)
- Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu holds the record as the world’s longest novel
- The world’s first artificial heart transplant and face transplant took place in France
Germany (Rank: 3)
Located in central Europe, Germany is the Federal Parliamentary Republic and shares its political borders with Denmark in the north, Poland, and the Czech Republic in the east, Switzerland, and Austria in the south, France in the southwest and Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in the west. Switzerland is its only non-EU neighbor.
Germany’s northern edge meets the Baltic Sea and the North Sea and has common maritime borders with the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Area: 357,022 sq. km
Population: 81.7 million (2015)
Capital City: Berlin – It is also the largest city in Germany
Official Language: German
Seaports: Brake, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Emden, Hamburg, Leer, Nordenham, Oldenburg, Papenburg, Wilhelmshaven
Major cities: Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Bremen, Dresden, Hannover, and Nuremberg.
Some Interesting Facts about Germany
- College education in Germany is free even for internationals
- Germany is a leader in climate and energy policies
- Germany is one of the world’s largest car producers
- Germany was the first country in the world to adopt Daylight saving time
- Germany has more cultural activities and places than any other country
- Germany is Europe’s second largest beer consumer
- German remains the language with the most native speakers in Europe
- It’s illegal to run out of fuel in the German Autobahn
- Prison escape is not punishable by law in Germany
- Munich is the second most punctual large airport in the world
- Fanta originated in Germany as a result of the Second World War
- Over 800 million currywurst are eaten in Germany each year
- Germany boasts some of world’s most famous inventions
- Germany’s capital center has shifted seven times
- Germany is the second most popular expat destination in the world
World Economic Forum Report 2017 – List of 10 most tourist-friendly
World Economic Forum Report 2017 – List of 10 most non-tourist-friendly countries (bottom 10 – ranked 127 – 136)