Clearly, with so many great options out there, deciding where to go can prove challenging. Luckily, if you’re really into making decisions based on data and research (nerd), the World Economic Forum (WEF) publishes a biennial report focused on the travel and tourism competitiveness of every country in the world. They even rank them.
While we strongly suggest you explore options off the beaten path, basing your decision on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report is a pretty safe bet and the top five countries on the report are definitely worth your time if you’ve never been. The report is based on a variety of factors and seeks to measure, “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the Travel & Tourism (T&T) sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.”
Meaning the report doesn’t necessarily predict whether you’ll have a great experience in a specific country, but rather that the necessary infrastructure for travel as an industry is in place. Organized into what the WEF calls the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index(T&TCI), the report measures qualities of a country with four major pillars of data that include a destination’s “Enabling Environment,” — which includes such factors as a country’s business environment, safety, and security — a country’s international openness and prioritization of travel and tourism, the infrastructure of a country, and lastly the natural and cultural resources available in the country.
Using the data collected in the T&TCI, the WEF assigns a ranking to each country and offers a data-driven guide for travel. We pulled out the top five and included the key reasoning behind WEF’s assessment of each country to help you decide where to travel in the new year, this way you stat dorks have a reliable way to assess your options.
5. The United States of America
Coming in fifth is the United States of America who the WEF concludes is “well known for its numerous World Heritage natural sites and extensive wildlife, which drive nature-based tourist arrivals. The flow of travelers is assisted by excellent air transport and tourist services infrastructure and increasingly efficient ground transport.” (Yeah, but have you heard about the racist president?)
If you’re looking for a proper road trip, explore the 50 states in search of the best burger!
Japan ranks fourth thanks to the country’s “rich natural and cultural resources, overall infrastructure, T&T prioritization, international openness and enabling environment,” with the report noting that “visitors are attracted to its rich natural resources… and abundance of sports stadiums…”
But we have a hunch the country’s burgeoning whiskey scene also has something to do with its success amongst travelers.
Germany enjoys “Increased habitat protection and improved environmental sustainability,” that has lead to a reinforcement of the country’s valuable natural resources, and features a “favorable business atmosphere and labor market” that has lead to “strong international openness and highly developed infrastructure” that is favorable to prospective travelers.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that France ranks so highly, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be your teenage self’s dream vacation spot and a lot of people never seem to grow out of that. The T&TCI reveals that France enjoys “the most competitive T&T economy in Western Europe” and has “one of the world’s best scores for cultural resources and business travel, and exceptional natural resources.”
Word. France has the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and you haven’t lived really lived life to it’s fullest until you’ve experienced watching the World Cup in a Paris Bar.
Coming in at number one is Spain which is “the second most visited destination in the world,” with its major points of attraction being its “excellent natural and cultural resources, with the latter being its greatest advantage relative to the rest of the world.” Spain has come to be a “center for international meetings and sporting events and has the strongest combination of intangible culture and heritage sites in the world.”
Spain, like a lot of the countries to land in the top five of this report, enjoys a fantastic food scene, features some prime wine country, and is home to giant music festivals and some of Europe’s most beautiful architecture.
Check out the full Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index here to see how the rest of the world ranked.