While it may receive over 37 million visitors per year – making it seventh place on the list of most visited countries in the world in 2018 – a recent study has found that the UK is statistically more dangerous to visit than Rwanda, Romania and Azerbaijan.
Every two years the World Economic Forum (WEF), based in Cologny-Geneva in Switzerland, produces its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which reports its findings on 140 countries around the world and how they rank according to a myriad of factors, including safety and security, eco-friendliness, value for money and natural resources. These factors are known as ‘pillars’ – of which there are 14 in total – which are based on 90 individual ‘indicators’.
Safety and security is the second of the 14 pillars, and this year has seen the UK languishing in 45th place behind countries such as Romania, Rwanda, Azerbaijan and Armenia. To establish these rankings, the WEF takes into account “the costliness of common crime and violence, as well as terrorism, and the extent to which police services can be relied upon to provide protection from crime”. While the murder rate of the UK is lower than the four countries mentioned above, it is the country’s terrorist attacks in recent years which are believed to be the reason for the UK’s low ranking in this category.
The UK doesn’t fare well in other pillars either. It was ranked 50th in the health and hygiene category, behind countries such as Mongolia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Moldova. But it’s value for money where the UK really falls down. Out of the 140 countries, it was ranked 140th, meaning the country is now more expensive than countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
However, it’s not all bad news for the UK. In the pillar of cultural resources and business travel, the country ranked 7th, with China taking the top spot. When it came to the overall best travel destination worldwide, the UK came in 6th place, a spot held by the USA in 2017; the USA has since moved to 5th place, which was previously held by the UK. The four top countries remain unchanged since 2017. These are, in ascending order, Japan, Germany, France and Spain. Spain has long been a popular travel destination for Brits, which scores highly for its large number of World Heritage Sites, excellent cultural resources, top-class accommodation options, and solid infrastructure and transportation. Spain has also seen an increase of American tourists; earlier this year the National Statistics Institute (INE) reported that visitor numbers from the USA had increased by 11.8% in 2018.
The report by the WEF also expressed concerns that travel and tourism are at ‘tipping point’, with international arrivals expected to reach a staggering 1.8 billion by the year 2030. The report stated:
The term ‘overtourism’, used to depict the negative impact tourism can have on a destination, its residents and visitors alike, has become common currency. More work needs to be done to make sure cultural and natural assets are preserved in the face of growing tourism visits.