Skift Take

Albania, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt, and El Salvador have been named the most-improved emerging economies for enabling travel and tourism development since 2019. Here are some insights.

The world’s most developed countries continue to dominate tourism but we’ve just gotten a good snapshot of which emerging markets are enjoying gains.

Every two years the World Economic Forum analyzes the travel and tourism competitiveness of economies worldwide, and it just released its 2024 report.

What caught Skift’s eye was how a handful of emerging-market countries had upped their tourism game. The World Economic Forum ranked Albania, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt, and El Salvador as being among the most improved developing nations for enabling travel and tourism development since 2019.

Here are some quick takeaways on each standout tourism performer for 2023.

1. Albania

  • WEF’s take: Albania rose 12 spots to 66th place in the organization’s Travel and Tourism Development Index. For context, that means its tourism development is nearly on par with the average of all countries now that it is better marketing its white-sand beaches and dramatic mountains.

2. Indonesia

  • WEF’s take: Indonesia leaped 14 notches to 22nd place in the organization’s Travel and Tourism Development Index.
  • Leadership: Government officials boosted domestic tourism last year by creating the Karisma Event Nusantara program, which gave financial support to more than 170 festivals, sports, music, and cultural events nationwide involving approximately 143,200 artists and event organizers​. Officials have also sought outside investment to help build hotels, golf courses, and especially hospitals to support medical tourism. It wants to make Lombok Island an eco-tourism magnet.

3. Egypt

  • WEF’s take: Egypt rose 5 places to 61st in the organization’s Travel and Tourism Development Index.
  • The top line: Last year, Egypt hit a tourism record of 14.9 million visitors. The country’s tourism ministry intends to double that figure by 2028.
  • Leadership: In 2023, Egypt added 14,000 hotel rooms to reach a capacity of 220,000. In 2024, the country is going to another 25,000 rooms.

4. Tanzania

  • WEF’s take: Tanzania jumped 7 spots to 81st in its rankings.
  • Leadership: Travel and tourism revenue is a major funding source for conserving the country’s landscapes and wildlife, reaching $3.37 billion last year. Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan participated in “The Royal Tour” documentary to promote the country for tourism investment by outside companies. She guided viewers around Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and through the Serengeti.
  • Signature move: This year investment firm Albwardy said it would create Four Seasons Resort Zanzibar, with 60 villas on the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of Pongwe.

5. El Salvador

  • WEF’s take: El Salvador was the fastest-growing performer in the Americas in the organization’s Travel and Tourism Development Index. El Salvador rose four rungs on the global rankings to 97th place.
  • The top line: Last year, this Latin American country was buoyed by a robust tourism industry that saw a 43% increase in foreign visitors, contributing $3.79 billion in foreign exchange, according to Fitch Ratings.
  • Leadership: Ecuador has also benefited from an effective crackdown on crime by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, named the “world’s coolest dictator” by some. A safer reputation has bolstered the country’s tourism profile.
  • Signature move: Earlier this year, the capital city of San Salvador opened its first Hyatt Centric. The move signaled the confidence of a major hotel group in the country’s future as it opened an upscale hotel there.

Need for tourism strategy

To keep these gains going, the World Economic Forum warns that tourism leaders need to get strategic.

It recommends big-picture thinking and collaboration as today’s hottest destinations deal with shortages of skilled labor, extreme weather caused by climate change, and other headwinds.

“Far more investment will need to be made in areas such as developing favorable business, health and labor conditions, international openness, information and communications tech, transport and tourist infrastructure, and the promotion and development of natural and cultural resources if these economies wish to increase their share of the travel and tourism market and improve their readiness for future risks and opportunities,” say the report’s authors.

The full WEF tourism report is available online.

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Tags: africa, africa tourism, albania, economic development, egypt, international tourism, latin america, nigeria, tanzania, tourism development, wef

Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash

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