In the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, the Philippines does well in two categories – ‘Natural Resources’ and ‘Price Competitiveness’ – and in each ends well within the top third of the 136 countries surveyed.
However, within the eight member states of its peer group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – Brunei and Myanmar weren’t part of the survey – the archipelago still faces some tough competition. And this is the region where it really needs to stand out – these are the Philippines main challengers for tourists. Here, for each of those categories, are the global rankings of the Asean countries with their corresponding scores.
Natural Resources: Thailand, 7th (4.9); Indonesia, 14th (4.7); Malaysia, 28th (4.1); Vietnam, 34th (4.0); Philippines, 37th (4.0); Cambodia, 62nd (3.2); Laos, 71st (3.0); Singapore, 103rd (2.4).
Price Competitiveness: Malaysia, 3rd (6.1); Indonesia, 5th (6.1); Laos, 14th (5.7); Thailand, 18th (5.6); Philippines, 22nd (5.5); Vietnam, 35th (5.3); Cambodia, 51st (5.1); Singapore, 91st (4.7).
But while price and beauty undoubtedly have their appeal, cheap and cheerful is by no means a winning combination. What stands out in this data is that Singapore does badly globally in both these categories. And yet Singapore has by far the highest ranking of any Asean country in this survey ending up with an overall world ranking of 13th. So, while in these two areas the Lion City can’t compete with the Pearl of the Orient Seas, for the Philippines, while they help the final result, they’re certainly not game changers.
A look at the 2016 tourist arrival numbers would seem to confirm that – suggesting that these two items are not foremost on travellers’ minds: Singapore received 16.4 million tourist arrivals last year; the Philippines attracted 5.9 million.
But a contributing factor to why the Philippines’ teeming wealth of natural resources – its landscapes and coasts; its hill lands and natural parks – are likely not exploited more fully is that getting to them is difficult, uncomfortable and very time consuming. The reasons for this is the paucity of the country’s ‘Air transport infrastructure,’ ranked 65th; its ‘Tourist service infrastructure’, 87th; and its ‘Ground and port infrastructure’ 107th. We shall be looking at these more closely as we continue this series of infographics.