When it comes to favourite destinations for tourists, Thailand is behind Singapore and Malaysia, according to a report of the World Economic Forum.The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2013 placed Singapore on top of the countries in Southeast Asia and put Malaysia one spot above the kingdom.
It praised the friendly attitude of Thais towards foreign tourists and the solid performance of the private sector in Thailand to bolster tourism. But the industry was hampered by natural disasters, political unrest, the protection of property rights and red tape to start a business, noted the report, which is conducted every two years.
Thailand projects 24.5 million tourists this year, up from 22.3 million in 2012. The Tourism Department hopes 30 million visitors will come to the country in 2015.
Thailand ranked 43rd in the world’s rankings, dropping two notches from the last survey in 2011. It also was the ninth most popular country in the Asia-Pacific region also lead by Singapore.
“Singapore benefits from excellent transport infrastructure”, including ground and airport facilities, the report said.
Malaysia came second in Southeast Asia and eighth in the Asia-Pacific due to its low fuel prices, ticket taxes and airport charges, in addition to its competitive hotel rates.
Malaysia has ridden on its successful “Truly Asia” tourism campaign to lure tourists to the country.
Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia were behind Thailand respectively. Laos and Myanmar were not included in the report.
Natural resources and several World Heritage sites were among attractions enticing tourists to Indonesia, it said.
The report called the Philippines “the most improved country” among the Asia-Pacific nations, thanks to its aggressive spending on marketing and branding campaigns.
Improving protection of property rights, more openness toward foreign investment and fewer visa requirements for foreign visitors made the Philippines an up-and-coming country, although infrastructure remained a problem, it added.
Switzerland was in command as the world’s best destination since the last report due to its top hotel and other tourism facilities. “Switzerland’s infrastructure, especially ground transport, is among the best in the world,” it said.
Haiti was placed last among 140 countries surveyed in the report.