Vietnam has jumped eight spots on a global travel and tourism ranking despite poor environmental protection that is holding back its competitiveness, according to a new World Economic Forum report.
The country ranks 67th among 136 economies in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, putting it among the 10 most-improved since 2015.
Vietnam’s competitiveness is driven mainly by its natural and cultural resources and price competitiveness, said the report, which also measures each economy’s infrastructure, safety and hygiene, business environment and human resources.
The WEF report forecasts that Vietnam will be among the top 10 fastest growing destinations for leisure travel spending in the next decade, together with other Asian markets like China, India, Myanmar and Thailand.
It said Vietnam has made “significant progress” on human resources and labor, and has risen 18 places in that category to 37th globally thanks to a better-qualified labor force and simplified regulations for hiring foreign workers.
Security and safety also make Vietnam an increasingly attractive destination, it said.
Vietnam is the third safest country in Southeast Asia, while conflict-torn Thailand and the Philippines are among the world’s 20 most dangerous destinations.
However, Vietnam’s business environment is ranked in the region’s bottom three, together with Cambodia and the Philippines.
The report specifically stresses environmental issues in Vietnam as areas that need more focus.
Its environmental sustainability ranks 129th globally, while waste emissions, deforestation and water treatment also earn low rankings.
The problem should be addressed at a multilateral level to build the foundation for a more sustainable development of the region, said the report, which is themed “Paving the Way for a More Sustainable and Inclusive Future.”
Spain remains in top spot this year with European countries dominating the top 10, which also includes the U.S., Australia and Canada.
Japan tops Asia at number 4, followed by Singapore in 13th and China in 15th. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia finishes in 26th, Thailand 34th and Indonesia 42nd.
African countries caught up in war wrap up the list.