Puerto Rico’s travel and tourism industry took the 52nd place in this year’s World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, slipping seven notches since the last time the report was published in 2011.
The biennial report published under the theme “Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation” released late Wednesday, shows that Puerto Rico’s strengths lie in its policies, environmental efforts and the high priority the government gives the travel and tourism agenda. In 2009, the island ranked 53rd overall.
“Puerto Rico continues to demonstrate a number of strengths, including a policy environment that is conducive to the development of the sector (19th), solid efforts to ensure environmental sustainability (16th), and reasonably high prioritization of [Travel & Tourism] in the government agenda (41st),” the lengthy document showed.
The Report covers 140 countries and uses a combination of data from publicly available sources, international travel and tourism institutions and experts. Puerto Rico’s International Competitiveness Institute provides the local data.
As in prior years, Puerto Rico managed to position itself in the top half of the WEF’s list, which scores country performances based on 14 indicators.
Aside from the three pillars already mentioned, the island ranked 62nd in safety and security; 68th in health and hygiene; 40th in air transport infrastructure; 32nd in ground transportation infrastructure; 41st in tourism infrastructure; 62nd in information and communications infrastructure; 79th in price competitiveness; 47th in human resources; 30th in affinity for travel and tourism; 104th in natural resources; and 92nd in cultural resources.
In its analysis, the WEF pinned Puerto Rico’s drop in its overall ranking mainly “to a somewhat poorer relative assessment of the quality of transport and tourism infrastructure.”
“Improvements could also be made in the areas of education and training (44th) and facilitating the hiring of foreign labor (107th),” the WEF report said.
Local WEF and tourism industry representatives will be offering their take on the report’s findings during a news conference this morning.
Puerto Rico’s travel and tourism industry contributed about $2.3 billion to the Gross Domestic Product in 2011, which is the point of reference for the WEF report. Coincidentally, the WEF’s projections peg the sector’s expected growth at about 2.3 percent through the year 2022. The sector generates about 20,000 jobs.
When looking at the specific ranking in the Americas region, Puerto Rico is in 8th place, trailing the United States, Canada, Barbados, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil.
Switzerland, Germany and Austria topped the global ranking. France fell four places from third in 2011 to seventh, while Spain climbed to fourth from eighth.