8 March 2013
South Africa has moved up two places to 64th overall in the latest edition of the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Competitiveness Report, which surveys 140 countries on their policies to develop the travel and tourism sector.
The 2013 report, released on Thursday, highlights the potential of the travel and tourism industry to boost economic resilience and the need for smart visa policies to maintain growth momentum.
It also highlights environmental sustainability as a key concern for the future.
South Africa was ranked third in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Seychelles and Mauritius.
It ranked highly in some of the report’s sub-indices, such as natural and cultural resources and infrastructure.
“South Africa comes in high at 17th place for its natural resources, and 58th for its cultural resources, based on its many World Heritage sites, its rich fauna, its creative industries and the many international fairs and exhibitions held in the country,” the report said.
“Infrastructure in South Africa is also well-developed for the region, with air transport infrastructure ranked 43rd and a particularly good assessment of railroad quality (46th) and road quality (42nd).”
Some of the areas that brought down South Africa’s overall ranking were safety and security and the level of health and hygiene, which were ranked 117th and 87th respectively.
High rates of communicable diseases such as HIV saw the country ranked 137th, and the increase in fuel prices (77th) and ticket taxes and airport charges (105th) also brought its ranking down.
The country’s ranking was helped when the report found policy regulations to be conducive to the tourism sector’s development; it ranked 29th in this category.
“This is an area where the country has improved steadily over the past few assessments, with well-protected property rights and few visa requirements for visitors,” the report said.