In 2009, Malta slipped from the 25th to the 29th place in the Travel and Tourism Competitive Index, a report issued by the World Economic Forum reveals.
The study shows how competitiveness in 133 destinations compares from one year to the other. The over-all rank is based on fourteen pillars, with each pillar subdivided into a number of sections – 74 in total.
While in the over-all rankings, Malta slipped by four places, other variances resulted in the classification of other pillars and subsections. In the Price Competitiveness pillar for example, Malta placed 100th in 2008, whereas in 2009 it placed in 122nd place.
Commenting on the findings of this report, tourism spokesperson for PL Marie-Louise Colerio Preca described the situation as “extremely worrying, especially at a time when consumer confidence has taken a slump due to the international economic crisis reaching its peak.”
“Consumers, who are also potential tourists, will first and foremost look at prices prior to deciding where to go on holiday,” she said.
Speaking to Business Today, a spokesperson for the MTA said that although we have slipped by four ranks in the over-all score this year, “last year’s index was from a total of 130 countries whereas this year’s index has increased to 133 countries.”
With regard to Malta’s dismal performance in purchasing power party (PPP) the MTA official pointed out that “if one takes the top ranking countries, one realises that their tourism offer is very different to ours and different to most of our direct competitors.”
He went on to enlist the countries featuring at the top of the list, including The Gambia, Tajikistan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Vietnam, Bolivia, Tanzania, Cambodia, Burundi and the Kyrgyz Republic.
“Our direct and immediate competitors, such as Slovenia, Israel, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Italy all ranked at the lower end of the PPP index,” he said.
Malta scored highly in subsections such as Health and hygiene, Affinity for Travel and Tourism, Business impact of rules on FDI, Road traffic accidents, Government prioritisation of the Travel and Tourism industry, Travel and Tourism government expenditure, Road density, Hotel rooms and Attitude of population toward foreign visitors.
On the other hand it scored less highly in others such as Enforcement of environmental regulation, Purchasing power parity, Fuel price levels, Protected areas and Hiring and firing practices.
Whereas at face value, this slip may show that Malta is being affected worse than other countries in tourism, the MTA spokesperson said: “Ranking 29th out of a total of 133 countries does not mean that Malta is being affected worse than other countries in tourism.”
“While acknowledging this particular result, the MTA insists on the fact that this index does not include the value for money factor and it reiterates the need for tourism operators to always keep in mind the need for value for money to be at the forefront of the service they offer,” he added.