Tourism is among the largest employers in most countries and also a fast-lane vehicle into the workforce for young people and women. Encouraging travel has the triple economic effect of boosting consumer and business confidence, strengthening two-way trade and promoting export income. Tourism competitiveness is therefore an important economic indicator and is recognised as a major element in economic stimulation packages. Therefore, understanding the relative competitiveness of a country engaged in tourism will assist that country in indentifying opportunities for growth.
The 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report is published by the World Economic Forum. One hundred and thirty-nine countries have now been ranked in the report, across fourteen indices (pillars) ranging from the country’s safety and security through to the tourism infrastructure. The report is very thorough and welcome, although it does heavily rely upon local data resources and the validity of that statistical analysis, which does reveal some significant inconsistencies at source.
For Tajikistan, the 2011 report does provide a strategic directional focus. Click here for the analysis for Tajikistan. Tajikistan is recognised as being a destination country that is only just entering the tourism sector. Most international tourists are unaware of Tajikistan as a destination – it doesn’t feature in any package holiday brochures and even the adventure holiday sub-sector hasn’t as yet fully recognised its potential (only 3 specialist adventure travel agents, out of 23 surveyed, featured Tajikistan as part of their itineraries). The report ranks Tajikistan as 118th (out of 139 countries ranked), highlighting infrastructure (130th) and resources (128th) as specific opportunities for improvement. However, perhaps most importantly, the prioritisation of travel and tourism (122nd) is the strategic weak link in Tajikistan’s development of this sector. Specifically, the effectiveness of its marketing and branding to attract the foreign tourist is identified as a gap. It is good news that the Second National Tourism Conference for Tajikistan, held in Dushanbe in October 2011, began the process of addressing these issues in breakout sessions (‘The role of coordinated destination marketing, looking at the current and future image of Tajikistan’). Until Tajikistan understands the mindset of its prospective tourists, it will continue to rank in the bottom quarter of tourism competitiveness.
Tony Nelson, Travel Consultant