Jamaica trails Barbados and Trinidad for travel and tourism product -- report

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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Jamaica, which prides itself as a tourism destination worsened nine spots to rank 76 out of 141 countries, allowing Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) to surpass the island in the Global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015, released Wednesday.


The report published biennially by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum ranked Barbados at 46, Puerto Rico at 55 and T&T at 69 -- the highest rated islands in the Caribbean. Some other countries that border on the Caribbean Sea also had higher ratings: Mexico at 30, Panama at 34, Costa Rica at 42 and Colombia at 68.


Over in the Indian Ocean the tourist destinations of the Seychelles (54) and Mauritius (56) also ranked higher than Jamaica.


Jamaica did rate higher than some other Caribbean countries, however, including the Dominican Republic (81), Suriname (101), Guyana (104) and Haiti (133). Several other Caribbean destinatiions were not on the index, including Cuba, Antigua and the Bahamas.


Spain led the world in the report, followed by France, Germany and the USA. The country with the lowest ranking was the African republic of Chad at 141.


The report ranked countries based on their score in its travel and competitiveness index. The index is comprised of four sub-indices including: enabling environment; travel & tourism policies and enabling conditions; infrastructure; and natural and cultural resources. These four sub-indices are further comprised of 14 pillars, and 90 individual indicators distributed among the different pillars.




Safety and security


One of the pillars -- the issue of safety and security -- contributed heavily to Jamaica's ranking as it scored 127th in the world in that subcategory. Despite the low rating, Jamaica ranked number one on the index of terrorism incidence (tying with 49 other countries) -- but fell down to virutually last at 140 for the business costs of crime and violence. The only country scoring worse than Jamaica was Venezuela -- while T&T was not far removed at 138.


Jamaica also fell down with a rating of 137 for its homicide rate of 39.3 per 100,000 people. In last position was Honduras with a rate of 90.4. T&T again wasn't far removed from Jamaica, at 132nd position and a homicide rate of 28.3.


"Safety and security is a critical factor determining the competitiveness of a country's travel and tourism industry. Tourists are likely to be deterred from traveling to dangerous countries or regions, making it less attractive to develop the travel and tourism sector in those places. Here we take into account the costliness of common crime and violence as well as terrorism, and the extent to which police services can be relied upon to provide protection from crime," stated the report.




Environmental sustainability


Another pillar of concern related to its 127th world ranking in environmental sustainability within the context of the island being described as the land of wood and water.


Jamaica's worst performance in that area was for baseline water stress, which measures the ratio of total annual water withdrawals to the total available annual supply. For that area, Jamaica tied for last place with nine other countries at 128th position, including Barbados and T&T and some some desert nations such as Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.


In the same area Jamaica also ranked very poorly (126) on its threatened species as a percentage of total species -- 11.7 per cent.




Priority given to tourism


On the other hand, the island's best pillar came in the priority it places on travel and tourism at 11th in the world.


Its best performance in that area was third in the world for the amount of travel and tourism government expenditure as a percentage of the total budget at 17 per cent. Above Jamaca were the island destinations of the Seychelles and the Dominican Republic, with Mauritius and Barbados taking 4th and 5th place.


The island ranked 30th in regard to ground and port infrastructure.


The authors stated that since the publication of the previous edition of the Travel & Tourism report the conditions for the travel and tourism had changed significantly.


"The world has been facing geopolitical tensions from the Middle East and Ukraine to South-East Asia, growing terrorism threats and fear of the spread of global pandemics. Should they persist, these global challenges could have significant further repercussions on the travel and tourism industry, as they touch on the pre-condition for the sector to grow and develop--the ability of people to travel safely," stated the report subtitled 'Growth through Shocks'.


Jamaica ranked between Vietnam at 75 and Jordan -- sandwiched between Israel and Syria, at 77. While war-torn Syria was not on the list, Israel was ranked above Jamaica at 72.


The first Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report was done in 2007. The island ranked within the top 60 nations in earlier reports.


The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 is published by the World Economic Forum within the framework of The Global Competitiveness and Risks team and the Industry Partnership Programme for Aviation & Travel.





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