Japan ranks highest in Asia on tourism competitiveness index

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JAPAN is skillful at using its natural resources and cultural heritage to boost tourism, according to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 recently released by the World Economic Forum.

The biennial 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”.

Japan – which ranked the best in Asia, and is also the most improved country in the world on the index – fared better this time on cost competitiveness. This is largely due to a substantial reduction of fuel prices and air ticket taxes, which has in turn reduced considerably the cost of traveling in the country.

Despite that, a slight increase was recorded in the average cost of accommodation in Japan. The country could also do better in environmental sustainability, the report suggested.

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Meanwhile, Southeast Asian countries fared well with competitive prices and its capitalizing of natural resources to draw in tourists.

Singapore performed especially well with a record number of visitors in 2016. Helped by visitors from China, India, and Indonesia, the Lion City recorded 16.4 million arrivals last year.

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The report added Singapore’s northern neighbors Malaysia could become more competitive by investing in the development of its cultural resources and business travel.

Malaysia should also do better in addressing environmental sustainability and ramp up efforts to preserve its natural assets and landscapes.

According to the World Economic Forum, some countries will have more difficulty growing their tourism industry as a result of their economic or geopolitical context, while others may not have been blessed with unique natural and cultural resources.

That being said, Asia-Pacific’s tourism efforts and cost competitiveness are expected to exponentially grow in the next 10 years.

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