Barbados has the best tourism infrastructure in the Caribbean, while the Dominican Republic is the region’s most-visited country, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report.
Tourism forms the central pillar of economies across the region, but the WEF report has urged regional governments to focus on improving transport and Internet infrastructure, pointing out that they rely heavily on their famous beaches.
According to the report, a lack of UNESCO natural heritage sites and reluctance in protecting lands are the reasons why the Caribbean’s tourism growth is slowing. Meanwhile, in Central and South America, infrastructure gaps, safety and security and business environment issues are the main hurdles restraining further growth in the sector.
“Most Caribbean economies rely extensively on their famous beaches but do not seem to sufficiently promote their cultural resources. More efforts in promoting and leveraging their cultural heritage could further improve their competitiveness,” the report noted.
In Latin America, the most-visited countries are Brazil and Mexico. The report regards the new Quito International Airport as the most important piece of infrastructure for bolstering tourism sector in Ecuador.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup and the upcoming 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games have led Brazil to invest huge sums of money in infrastructure and connectivity, helping the country rank 41st in airport infrastructure and 3rd in the number of sports stadiums.
With approximately 60.6 million arrivals, Spain tops the WEF ranking. Thanks to its Latin American connections, Spain is seeing a sudden surge in tourism from Mexico and Brazil.
The WEF has urged countries to focus on improving their broadband infrastructure to draw more tourists, saying that Internet access during a trip is increasingly seen as a necessity. A recent study by Boston Consulting Group estimates that 95% of people use digital resources to organize a trip.