SA improves tourism competitiveness

10 Fastest growing travel destinations

Cape Town - The World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism report for 2013 has ranked 140 countries according to attractiveness and competitiveness in the travel and tourism industries, with the Seychelles topping the Sub-Sahara region for the first time.

Described as a benchmark for tourists as to which countries roll out the welcome mat to travelers and which give the cold shoulder, the report has ranked South Africa in third position, after former Sub-Sahara leader Mauritius – now ranked in second position.

SA 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 also ranked infrastructure in South Africa as well developed for the region, with air transport infrastructure ranked 43rd and a particularly good assessment of railroad quality (46th) and road quality (42nd).

Overall, it found policy rules and regulations conducive to the sector's development (ranked 29th). The report state this was an area where the SA has improved steadily over the past few assessments, with well-protected property rights and few visa requirements for visitors. Tourism continues to be one of the five priority sectors in the SA's growth plan with government reviewing tourism legislation in an effort to streamline it further.

The report has outlined the urgency for South Africa to improve in the areas of safety and health while the numerous petrol price increases have also impacted negatively on the country's overall ranking. High ticket taxes and airport charges also diminished SA's price competitiveness in the tourism industry as whole.

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