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May 21, 2024

India Soars to 39th Spot in WEF Travel and Tourism Index 2024

India has achieved a significant milestone by climbing to the 39th position in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024.” This marks a substantial improvement in India’s travel and tourism sector, reflecting the nation’s resilience and recovery post-pandemic.

US Leads, India Shines in South Asia

The United States topped the rankings, while India emerged as the highest-ranked nation in South Asia and among lower-middle-income countries. This annual report, released on Tuesday, highlighted India’s impressive jump from the 54th position in 2021. However, due to changes in index criteria, direct comparisons with the 2022 and 2023 rankings are limited.

Spain, Japan, France, and Australia secured the next four spots, respectively, in the 2024 index.

Strong Competitiveness and Infrastructure

The index, compiled in collaboration with the University of Surrey in the UK, underscored India’s strengths in several key areas. India ranked 18th in price competitiveness, 26th in air transport infrastructure, and 25th in ground and port infrastructure. These factors significantly enhance India’s appeal as a travel destination.

Rich Natural and Cultural Resources

India’s rich natural and cultural resources are pivotal to its travel appeal. The country ranked 6th in natural resources and 9th in both cultural and non-leisure resources. Notably, India is one of only three countries to secure a top 10 ranking across all resource pillars.

Despite a slight decline from 2019, India continues to perform well in sustainable tourism. The increased prevalence of sustainable long stays among inbound visitors has been a positive trend, contributing to India’s high sustainability rankings.

Challenges and Recovery

Like many other nations, India’s travel and tourism industry has been impacted by global inflation and supply-side trends. This has resulted in a decline in price competitiveness, and the recovery of air transport and tourist services infrastructure has not yet reached 2019 levels. Consequently, India’s overall Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI) score is 2.1% lower than in 2019.

High-income economies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region lead the index. The WEF report expects international tourist arrivals and the sector’s contribution to global GDP to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, driven by the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions and strong pent-up demand.

Mixed Recovery Globally

“The travel and tourism sector’s post-pandemic growth continues, but its recovery has been mixed and operating conditions have been challenging. While 71 of the 119 TTDI-ranked economies increased their scores between the 2019 and 2024 editions, the average index score is just 0.7% above pre-pandemic levels,” the report noted.

West Asia demonstrated the highest recovery rates, surpassing 2019 levels by 20%. Europe, Africa, and the Americas all showed robust recoveries of approximately 90% in 2023.

Global and Regional Comparisons

The biennial index evaluated the travel and tourism sectors of 119 countries based on a variety of factors and policies. Germany, the UK, China, Italy, and Switzerland rounded out the top ten.

High-income economies typically maintain favorable conditions for travel and tourism development due to conducive business environments, dynamic labor markets, open travel policies, and well-developed transport and tourism infrastructure. These countries also boast rich natural, cultural, and non-leisure attractions.

Developing Nations on the Rise

Travel and tourism conditions in developing nations are gradually improving, but more effort is needed to close the gap. Among the 71 economies that improved their TTDI scores since 2019, 52 belong to low to upper-middle-income brackets.

Noteworthy improvements were seen in Saudi Arabia (+5.7%, moving from 50th to 41st) and the United Arab Emirates (+4.4%, rising from 25th to 18th). Developing nations such as Uzbekistan (+7.8%, advancing from 94th to 78th), Côte d’Ivoire (+6.4%, moving from 116th to 114th), Albania (+5.9%, progressing from 78th to 66th), Tanzania (+4.5%, rising from 88th to 81st), and Indonesia (+4.5%, jumping from 36th to 22nd) also showed significant advancements.

India’s rise in the WEF Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024 underscores its growing influence and potential in the global tourism landscape. The nation’s strategic improvements in infrastructure, competitive pricing, and sustainable practices position it well for continued growth and development in the sector.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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