A new report, put out earlier this month by the World Economic Forum, has ranked which countries roll out the welcome mat to travellers and which give the cold shoulder. The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 ranked 140 countries according to attractiveness and competitiveness in the travel and tourism industries.
Among the extensive analyses, one of the most interesting rankings was how welcome tourists are in each country, under the category Attitude of population toward foreign visitors.
And according to this rating Bolivia took the dubious honour, scoring a 4.1 out of seven on a scale of very unwelcome (0) to very welcome (7). Venezuela and the Russian Federation were next. Interestingly, despite their huge tourist arrivals, South Korea and China tied with four other countries for the eighth least friendly spot.
At the other end of the scale, Iceland and New Zealand were ranked the world's most welcoming nations for visitors.
The friendly ranking was just one aspect of the report, analyzing each country's competitiveness in travel and tourism. That competitiveness is based on the extent to which they are putting in place the factors and policies to make it attractive to develop the travel and tourism sector.
In the overall Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index Europe was the top region with the first five positions all held by European countries: Switzerland, Germany and Austria in the top three and in that order. Switzerland has headed the ranking since the index began five years ago.
Excellent tourism infrastructure and facilities, business travel appeal, sustainable development of natural resources and rich cultural resources were among the key factors in landing the highest positions in the rankings.
Safety/security, underdeveloped infrastructure and concerns about sustainable development were among the factors bringing down countries' competitiveness.
The United States (6th) topped the combined Americas, Singapore (10th) just pushed out Australia and New Zealand to lead the Asia Pacific region, the United Arab Emirates (28th) was the highest performer in the Middle East and the Seychelles (38th) overtook Mauritius to head Africa.
Mercosur countries, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, plus associates Chile, Bolivia and Peru did not fare encouragingly in the global ranking. The best positioned was Brazil (51) that next year is hosting the World Cup and in 2016 the Olympic Games.
Chile figures in position 58, Uruguay, 59, Argentina, 61, Peru, 73, Venezuela 113 and Paraguay, 115.
The report emphasized the need for continued development in the travel and tourism sector particularly for its role in job creation in a relatively stagnant global economy. The industry currently accounts for one in 11 jobs in the world.
The report used data compiled from the World Economic Forum's Executive Opinion Survey and hard data from private sources and national and international agencies and organizations such as the ICAO, IATA, UNWTO, World Bank/International Finance Corporation, IUCN, WHO and UNESCO.
Attitude of population toward foreign visitors: (1 = very unwelcome; 7 = very welcome)
1. Iceland 6.8
2. New Zealand 6.8
3. Morocco 6.7
4. Macedonia, FYR 6.7
5. Austria 6.7
6. Senegal 6.7
7. Portugal 6.6
8. Bosnia and Herzegovina 6.6
9. Ireland 6.6
10. Burkina Faso 6.6
1. Bolivia 4.1
2. Venezuela 4.5
3. Russian Federation 5.0
4. Kuwait 5.2
5. Latvia 5.2
6. Iran 5.2
7. Pakistan 5.3
8. Slovak Republic 5.5
9. Bulgaria 5.5
10. Mongolia 5.5