Costa Rica drops in tourism ranking

March 9, 2011

A new report on tourism competitiveness by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Costa Rica fifth in the Americas. However, infrastructure problems continue to hold the country back as it tries to compete with more developed countries.

The United States took the top spot, followed by Canada, Barbados and Mexico.

Tourism competitiveness is a measure of the factors that attract business and investment in the sector of tourism and travel in a country. The first Tourism Competitiveness Report was released in 2007. In a previous report, in 2009, Costa Rica ranked first among Latin American countries. Mexico is now ranked fourth. In this year’s report, 139 countries were graded.

Costa Rica scored well in areas such as natural resources and sustainable development. However, failures in the health sector and with the country’s infrastructure hampered a better ranking. Problems with Costa Rica’s highways especially hurt the country’s score.

“We emphasize the privileged position the country continues to maintain, however, we are aware that we can work to get a better ranking,” said Juan Carlos Ramos, president of the National Tourism Chamber, in a press release.

Ramos expressed concern that the government would not take notice of the weaknesses mentioned in the report. He said that the Costa Rica government has not implemented the type of infrastructure projects needed to spur the development of sectors that ranked low in the WEF report.

In the full rankings, Costa Rica ranked 44th, a two spot drop from the 2009 rankings. In previous rankings, Costa Rica also ranked fourth in the Americas.

“Following a period of severe economic turmoil, the travel and tourism industry is now beginning to see positive signs of recovery, especially in the emerging markets of Latin America, Asia and especially China,” said Thea Chiesa, head of aviation, travel and tourism at the WEF.

 Panama was the second highest-ranking Central America country at 58th. Other Central American countries didn’t fare so well, with Guatemala (86th), Honduras (88th), El Salvador (96th) and Nicaragua (100th) finishing in the latter half of the rankings.

The overall top 10 was lead by Switzerland followed by Germany, France, Austria, Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and Singapore.

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