KUALA LUMPUR 30 AUGUST 2016. Permandangan indah dari helikopter bandar Kuala Lumpur ketika Sky Tour Kuala Lumpur. NSTP/SAIFULLIZAN TAMADI.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has placed Malaysia in the 26th spot in its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, the bi-annual benchmarking index measuring the relative health of 136 countries’ tourism sectors.

KUALA LUMPUR 30 AUGUST 2016. Permandangan indah dari helikopter bandar Kuala Lumpur ketika Sky Tour Kuala Lumpur. NSTP/SAIFULLIZAN TAMADI.

The organisation said that although Malaysia’s ranking dropped one place compared to 2015, the country effectively improved its travel and tourism competitiveness in absolute terms. “Malaysia remains an attractive destination thanks to its price competitiveness, its strong air connectivity and beautiful natural resources. The country also offers a conducive, enabling environment for doing business, which is supported by a strong human resources and labour market. “Malaysia has also improved in ICT readiness, tourism service infrastructure, and international openness,” WEF said in its report.

However, the WEF said that Malaysia’s business environment and investment in cultural resources need improving. “To further enhance its competitiveness, the government could further prioritise the travel and tourism industry, and invest in the development of its cultural resources and business travel, while addressing environmental sustainability and preserving its beautiful natural environment,” it said.

This year, the top three spots in the WEF’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report were snapped up by Spain, France and Germany, in that order. The three countries’ top rankings are attributed to their having world-class natural and cultural resources, outstanding infrastructure and excellent hospitality services.

The Report explained that the global travel and tourism sector accounts for 10 per cent of global GDP, grows faster than other sectors, and provides one in 10 jobs. “Underpinning this growth is the increasing accessibility and affordability of travel, although environmental challenges remain and many countries are underperforming in making technological strides,” the WEF said.

Other countries in the top 10 are Japan (fourth), the United Kingdom (fifth), the United States (sixth, down two places), Australia (seventh), Italy (eighth), Canada (ninth) and Switzerland (10th, down from sixth spot).

Other Asian countries alongside Malaysia who made it to the top-30 ranking include Hong Kong (11th, up two), China (15th, up two) and South Korea (19th, up 10), while India made the largest leap in the top 50 (up 12 places) to land in 40th place.

NST