Qatar has the second most competitive economy in the region when it comes to travel and tourism, a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found.
But it still lags far behind the UAE, which was once again ranked the strongest country in the region, according to the WEF’s Travel and Tourism (T&T) Competitiveness Report 2017.
The WEF stated that the index 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.”
In Qatar, which is trying to diversify away from oil and gas, tourism is becoming an increasingly important part of the economy.
But at 47th out of 136 nations, it remains some ways behind the UAE, which was ranked 29th for its performance this year.
That said, both nations have fallen in the rankings, in part due to the success that other countries saw with their tourism strategies.
While Qatar scored highly in terms of safety and security, health and hygiene, price competitiveness and ICT readiness, it fell down when it came to “international openness.”
This was due to its strict visa requirements and lack of regional trade agreements, the report said.
Qatar’s lack of natural and cultural resources also hurt its rankings.
It is home to only one UNESCO World Heritage site (Al Zubarah Fort), for example. And the percentage of “protected areas” in the country is also very low.
Finally, its high particulate matter concentration, which affects air quality, brought Qatar’s environmental score down significantly.
On the plus side, the country did score highly in terms of its tourism infrastructure and air/sea transport.
It also ranked better than most nations for having low incidences of terrorism and came in first out of all countries for its mobile network coverage.
Best and worst
According to the WEF, the best countries to visit in 2016 were Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.
The worst were Mauritania, DR Congo, Burundi, Chad and Yemen.
The report found that overall, competitiveness in the travel industry is growing, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
It also noted that travel and tourism is helping to build bridges during an era of “walls between people.” Additionally, countries that embrace a digital strategy were more likely to attract visitors.
But it also warned that going forward, environmental sustainability will be a key challenge for many nations trying to develop their tourism industries.
According to the report:
“The more pristine the natural environment of a country, the more tourists are inclined to travel there, and the more they are willing to pay to access well-preserved areas. Consequently, as the natural capital depletes, destinations lose revenue.”
This will likely apply to Qatar as well, which has plans to revamp its coasts to make beaches more attractive to visitors in the future.