For the second time, Spain has been ranked as the world’s top tourism destination, above France and Italy. Among the country’s key strengths recognised were that it is extremely well-prepared for visitors, with a superb infrastructure and outstanding cultural attractions, and the high value placed on the essential importance of tourism to the economy. The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2017, which is produced biannually by the World Economic Forum, covers 136 countries and measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”. Spain beat the other 135 nations with a total of 5.43 points, taking top ranking for the second time running – in 2015, the country made its debut in the top spot. Its closest European competitor is France, in second place with 5.32, followed by Germany in third with 5.28 – these top three countries have kept their positions from the previous index in 2015. The UK is fifth, with Japan ahead in fourth place, while the US takes sixth spot. The factors which were seen as decisive were the tourist service infrastructure and cultural resources and business travel, both classified as the second-best in the world, while prioritisation of travel and tourism took fifth position in global rankings. You can search for each country’s global ranking by factor within the report.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017 ranked Spain as the world's top tourism destination. (Source: World Economic Forum)
According to the report: "Spain’s success can be attributed to its unique offer of both cultural (2nd) and natural (9th) resources, combined with sound tourism service infrastructure (2nd), air transport connectivity (9th) and strong policy support (5th). Spain’s T&T sector has not only benefited from the recent ease of its fiscal policy, but also from diverted tourism from security-troubled Middle East. These developments, however, do not take anything away from Spain’s ability to provide an excellent environment for the T&T sector to flourish. The challenge now is to continue to find ways to improve, given the sector’s maturity. While Spain’s ground transportation is ranked in the top 15 economies, it has started to show signs of initial decline, suggesting that upgrades and modernizations are expected. In addition, the business environment (75th) can be improved, as dealing with construction permits remains burdensome (104th), and there is room to improve international openness further (43rd, down two places)." The penultimate factor may strike a chord with homeowners here in Andalucia.
One of Spain's biggest tourist attractions is its beaches.
In 2015 Spain headed the TTCI ranking for the first time ever, "thanks to its cultural resources, infrastructure and adaptation to digital consumption habits".
Spain's heritage is also highly valued - the Alcazar of Seville is a jewel of Mudejar architecture. Photo: Fiona Flores Watson