This Is the Best Country for a Vacation

April 19, 2017, 5:02 PM UTC
Barcelona, Sagrada Familia Church
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Every two years, the World Economic Forum releases a report on the world’s most travel-friendly destinations. This year’s report, titled “The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017: Paving the way for a more sustainable and inclusive future,” looks at the qualities that make a tourist destination great, including health and hygiene, safety and security, infrastructure, and natural resources.

The crux of the report is the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which ranks 136 countries based on these qualities. For the second time, Spain has come out on top.

So, what makes Spain so great? If you’re immediately thinking of Gaudí’s architecture in Barcelona, the Camino de Santiago and siestas before sangrias, you’re on the right track.

The European nation earned its title for a combination of cultural and natural qualities (ranking second and ninth, respectively), in addition to accessibility by air and strong tourism infrastructure.

The report notes that Spain has had a boost in tourism from travelers who decided to skip vacations to the Middle East or certain parts of Western Europe because they were worried about security. The country also isn’t all-around perfect: Its business environment and ease of obtaining permits for construction are both way down the list of rankings, and though ground transportation is good for now, Spain will need to make some improvements to keep up with the times.

Identifying the best countries for tourism isn’t the sole purpose of the report, though. The tourism and travel industry is booming: According to the report, 10 percent of the world’s jobs are in the tourism industry and travel also accounts for 10 percent of the world’s GDP. In light of the importance of travel in today’s economy, the World Economic Forum is focused on keeping the industry thriving in a way that’s sustainable for the environment and supportive and inclusive of local communities.

With that in mind, the report makes suggestions for regions: “North America should enhance its price competitiveness, environmental sustainability and infrastructure,” and for the Asia-Pacific region, “regional visa policies could further enhance travel and tourism.”

France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. followed behind Spain to round out the top five, but they aren’t the only winners. Mexico and India both made significant progress since the last report, jumping eight and 12 places, respectively. Mexico is now ranked 22nd, and is in second place for its natural resources, while India, in 40th place overall, is ranked ninth for cultural resources.

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