The Europe and Eurasia and Asia-Pacific regions dominate the index ranking, while sub-Saharan Africa showed the greatest improvement in performance.
Figure 13: Regional TTDI 2021 performance distribution
Overall, the Europe and Eurasia (Europe) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions dominate the TTDI ranking (9.0% and 4.9% above the TTDI average, respectively). However, Europe is the only region to have decreased its average score since 2019 (just -0.5%), very slightly eroding its considerable lead. On the other hand, the sub-Saharan Africa (Africa) region had the greatest improvement in performance (+1.1%), but far more needs to be done for economies in the region to catch up with the global average (-18.4% below TTDI average). The Americas and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions also underperform the global average (-3.1% and -2.8% below TTDI average). Nonetheless, the Americas region has marginally gained in its score (+0.6%), while MENA has remained relatively stable as its improvement (+0.1%) was in line with overall global performance.
The section below provides additional analysis of each region and highlights the top performers or interesting results. It is important to note that regions are often composed of a wide variety of economies at different levels of development. Therefore, the quantitative results may not reflect some of these more nuanced realities. For a more in-depth visualization of regional data, please click here.
While 13 out of the 21 Americas economies covered in the TTDI have improved their score since 2019, the region as a whole still performs below the TTDI average, with just under half of the 21 economies scoring above the mean. One of the most defining aspects of the region’s T&T is its rich endowment of nature. More than half of its economies score above the TTDI average for the Natural Resources pillar, nine are in the top 20 performers and five (in order of pillar scoring, Mexico, Brazil, the United States, Canada and Colombia) among the top 10. These five, and a few others, also possess above-average cultural and non-leisure resources. On average, the region’s economies also have above-average tourist service infrastructure, price competitiveness and prioritization of T&T, although this varies greatly between constituent countries.
On the other hand, the region’s T&T sector faces many challenges, not least unfavourable enabling environments and, in particular, often poor business (especially outside of high-income economies) and safety and security conditions. In fact, half of the 20 lowest-ranking economies for safety and security globally come from Latin America. The region’s less developed economies require significant investment in mobility services and infrastructure, especially for ground transport, and a noticeable need to enhance international openness. The majority of economies in the Americas also need to tackle socioeconomic resilience and environmental sustainability issues.
The United States is the region’s top TTDI scorer (2nd) and accounts for the vast majority of the region’s T&T GDP. Outside of the United States, Canada (13th), Mexico (40th), Brazil (49th) and Argentina (59th) account for much of the remaining T&T GDP. Chile (34th) stands out as the top performer in South America, while Uruguay, which was the most T&T-dependent economy in the region in 2020, experienced the fastest rate of improvement (+3.6%, 61st to 55th).
The APAC region is the second-highest performer in the ranking. Of its 20 constituent economies, 12 score above the TTDI average and 13 have improved their score since 2019.
The region is large and diverse. It is home to
some of the best combinations of natural, cultural and non-leisure resources, but environmental sustainability challenges threaten its lead in the former. Many of the more developed economies in APAC have world-class transport, tourism, healthcare and ICT infrastructure, high levels of international openness and investment in
T&T, conducive business environments, high performance for socioeconomic resilience and qualified and productive workforces. On the other hand, the region’s less developed economies’ advantage in price competitiveness and rich natural assets are often offset by gaps in the aforementioned factors such as tourism, healthcare and ICT infrastructure, international openness and socioeconomic resilience. However, these gaps are being bridged somewhat as APAC’s lower- middle-income economies have improved their performance, with particularly strong growth in areas such as ICT readiness.
As mentioned, Japan is the top performer in both the APAC region and globally, with Australia (7th) and Singapore (9th) ranking in the global top 10. However, it is lower-middle-income economies such as Viet Nam (+4.7%, 60th to 52nd), Indonesia (+3.4%, 44th to 32nd) and Pakistan (+2.9%, 89th to 83rd) that have improved their TTDI scores the most since 2019. China, which ranks 12th on the TTDI, has the region’s largest T&T economy, while the Philippines, which depended the most on T&T for its GDP in 2020, ranks 75th. Although Japan and Singapore lead the ranking in the Eastern APAC and South-East Asia subregions, respectively, India (54th) is the top scorer in South Asia.
Europe remains the TTDI’s top-performing region, surpassing the global average in most pillars and being among the best positioned to grow in the coming years. Of the 43 regional economies covered in the index, 32 score above the global average and 18 have improved their score since 2019.
As a global economic and cultural centre, the region boasts some of the highest scores for cultural and non-leisure resources, travel to which is bolstered by, on average, a high degree of international openness and quality infrastructure, including the best ground and tourist service infrastructure. Operating in the region is also made easier by leading ICT and healthcare infrastructure and favourable business, security, human resource and labour markets, and socioeconomic conditions. Advantages in many of these categories are especially concentrated in the more economically developed Western, Southern and Northern Europe subregions. Moreover, the region’s international openness is based around members of the European Union and Schengen Area (the 26 European countries that have abolished passport control etc. on their mutual borders).
Countries in the Eurasia and Balkans and Eastern Europe subregions tend to be more price- competitive compared to their expensive western neighbours, while more tourism-dependent southern European states stand out for their prioritization of T&T, tourism infrastructure and natural resources. Overall, European economies do better than most in environmental sustainability, but they often have more limited natural resources, resulting in some of the lower marks for the T&T Demand Pressure and Impact pillar, which includes signs of unsustainable demand such as high rates of seasonality and shorter visitor stays.
Spain ranks highest in the region (3rd). However, France (4th), Germany (5th), Switzerland (6th), the United Kingdom (8th) and Italy (10th) all rank among the top 10 on the index. In 2020, Croatia (46th) and Albania (72nd) were most dependent on T&T for GDP, while Germany has the largest T&T economy.
While the MENA region underperforms the global TTDI average, results vary greatly based on the subregion and economic level of development. Overall, the region scores above average in eight pillars, with half of the dozen economies covered by the index scoring above average.
MENA’s high-income economies, all of which are based in the Middle East subregion, are typically defined by top-notch air transport, a significant presence of non-leisure resources such as major corporations, and overall favourable enabling environments, including business and human resource and labour markets and good ICT-readiness. On the other hand, North African economies, all of which are lower-middle- income, have gaps in air, tourist, health and ICT infrastructure and access to qualified labour. Yet they lead the region in price competitiveness and tend to prioritize and devote relatively more resources to T&T. To further develop their T&T sector, many MENA countries need to increase their international openness, invest more in ground services and tourist infrastructure and focus on promoting and establishing cultural and, in particular, natural attractions. The latter task will be hard to achieve without improving the region’s challenging environmental sustainability situation. Moreover, the region can significantly improve its skilled labour availability and resilience by addressing socioeconomic issues such as lagging social protection coverage, youth employment and training, workers’ rights and opportunities for women and minority groups.
The United Arab Emirates (25th) is the best TTDI performer in the region. However, since 2019, Saudi Arabia, which has the largest T&T economy in the region, has had the biggest leap in the rankings (+2.3%, 43rd to 33rd), while Egypt has had the second greatest percentage improvement (+4.3%, 57th to 51st) in the entire index. The United Arab Emirates is top scorer in the Middle East subregion, while Egypt is the top scorer in North Africa. In 2020, Qatar (43rd) and Tunisia (80th) were most dependent on T&T for GDP.
Sub-Saharan Africa (Africa) has had the greatest improvement in TTDI performance since 2019, with 17 out of the 21 regional countries covered by the index increasing their TTDI scores. Nevertheless, the region still lags behind other regions, undermining its great potential as a T&T economy.
Africa’s opportunity for tourism lies in several factors, not least of which are its price competitiveness and potential for nature tourism. However, several obstacles undermine T&T in the region. Government support for the sector could be improved via better data collection and marketing. In particular, nature tourism can be bolstered by higher-quality online promotion and increased focus on environmental sustainability. Additionally, travel to and within the region is hampered by underdeveloped infrastructure and limited international openness. Visitors might also be concerned by the region’s, on average, low health, hygiene, safety and security conditions. Lastly, unfavourable business, human resource and labour markets, and socioeconomic conditions all make T&T operations less viable.
Nevertheless, as already mentioned, many economies in the region are bridging these gaps. For instance, hard transport infrastructure continues to improve as indicated by the more positive perceptions of roads, railways and airports. Additionally, the region’s travel market is bound to benefit from improving international openness, which is bolstered by increasing intra-regional trade integration efforts such as the African Continental Free Trade Area. Africa also had the index’s fastest improvement in ICT readiness, making it easier to provide digital T&T services.
Mauritius (62nd) ranks the highest in the region. However, South Africa (68th) is the largest T&T economy in Africa. Meanwhile, Benin had the greatest improvement in TTDI score (+4.0%, 106th to 103rd) and Tanzania the greatest improvement in ranking (+2.6%, 86th to 81st). The top scorers in Eastern, Southern and Western Africa are Mauritius, South Africa and Cape Verde (82nd), respectively. The latter was also the most dependent of T&T for GDP in 2020.