The state of Israeli tourism has been improving, shows a report by the World Economic Forum – but hotels in the Holy Land remain among the most uncompetitive in the world, price-wise.
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In the last two years, Israel's ranking climbed 11 notches in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, from a global rank of 72 in 2015 to 61st this year. Only Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and India made bigger jumps over this period.
However, a decade ago, Israel was positioned much higher in the rankings: 32nd globally.
The competitiveness of the tourism industry isn’t just about the hotel prices. The Travel & Tourism Competitive Index measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the Travel & Tourism sector,” explains the WEF. Its rankings are built from four sub-indexes, 14 pillars and 90 individual indicators distributed among the pillars.
The sub-indexes are Enabling Environment (which includes the business environment, health and hygiene); Tourism Policy and Enabling Conditions (including the bugbear for the Israeli industry – price competitiveness); Infrastructure (which includes ports and airport); and Natural and Cultural Resources.
The most competitive country in the world for tourism and travel turns out to be Spain, followed by France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., the U.S., Australia and Italy. Israel, in 61th position, is nestled between Bahrain and Colombia. In last place is Yemen.
While the business environment in Israel improved, lifting the country 19 notches to 32nd place in 2017, when it comes to security, Israel ranks poorly (103rd in the world – Bolivia ranked 94th and Iran ranked 87th). Israel also does not do well in price competitiveness: It sits at the bottom of the list in 133rd place, after Iceland and followed only by Barbados, England and Switzerland. In 2007, Israel had ranked 78th in price competitiveness.
Regarding hygiene, Israel ranked 39th, down from 7th a decade ago, in 2007. The cleanest nation according to the index is Germany and the least clean is Mozambique.
Israel’s highest scores were for the business environment, tourism service infrastructure and employees in the sector. But in natural resources, Israel dropped from 27th place 10 years ago to 93rd, thanks to unimpressive maintenance of precious natural spots such as Mitzpeh Ramon, the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee.