The Philippines has plummeted down a global ranking of tourism destinations due to safety and security issues.
The country has fallen five places in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.
The Philippines ranked 79th out of 136 countries in the most recent report, compared to 74th out of 141 in 2015.
The country has been dragged down due to safety and security concerns, poor transport infrastructure and ineffective environmental policies.
Among the nine Southeast Asian countries ranked in the report, the Philippines was third to last, ahead of Laos (94th) and Cambodia (101st).
According to the report, the top five tourism-friendly countries are Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.
Making up the top 10 are the US, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland.
Referring to the Philippines, Tiffany Misrahi of WEF said: “The travel and tourism sector continues to develop on the back of the country’s rich natural resources and high price competitiveness, and arrivals have continued to grow so far.
“Yet this country attains a lower competitiveness performance this year due to a more restrictive visa policy that reduces its openness performance (60th), a reduction of the government budget dedicated to the development of the travel and tourism sector by almost half and reduced efficiency of ground transport (107th, losing 14 places).”
The also said said that these factors may not have had their full effect yet and may yet further reduce tourism activity.
“In addition, security concerns remain high (126th) and diminished protection of property rights, less effective judicial system and stricter rules on FDI (foreign direct investment) have reduced the conduciveness of the business environment (82nd),” Ms Misrahi added.
The safety and security pillar was measured based on reliability of police services, business costs of crime and violence, index of terrorism of incidence, business costs of terrorism and homicide rate.
Ms Misrahi added: “At the same time, environmental policy has improved but remains low (118th), risking to undermine natural resources, the main asset for attracting tourists in the country. Although the Philippines’ travel and tourism potential remains high, there are several areas where policy interventions could help to regain competitiveness.”
According to the report, research has shown that for every 30 new tourists to a destination, one new job is created, making the travel and tourism industry a crucial job creator.
“To reach their potential, the majority of countries still have more to do, from enhancing security, promoting their cultural heritage, building their infrastructure and creating stronger visa policies,” Ms Misrahi concluded.