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In 2010 there were more than 200 million inbound tourism arrivals in the Asia-Pacific region, bringing about US$249 billions in international receipts [1].

This may seem as a good news for  the Philippines because the country may benefit from a bandwagon effect.  But the truth is that the country’s success as a destination is actually more dependent on its intra-regional competitiveness. For example, if there are N million people who would love to go to the region, they would have to compare the neighboring countries individually and judge where to go.  The countries which are near each other may more likely compete against each other based on more specific preferences of the travelers.

In a recent paper by Huang and Peng of the National Chiao Tung University published in the journal Tourism Management [2],  they measured the tourism competitiveness of 9 neighboring countries in Asia based on six criteria. These are:

1. Availability of attractions

International tourism arrivals per thousand people, International tourism receipts (US$ million)

2. Availability of service

Hotel room per 100 population, Number of airlines with scheduled flights originating in the country, Number of passengers carried by the main companies per thousand people

3. Affordability

Relative costs of access (ticket taxes and airport charges) to international air transport services, Average room price in US$, Cost index of goods in major cities

4. Positive market image

Quality of life, Quality of the natural environment

5. Peace and stability

The degree to which personal security and private property are adequately protected, The incidence of common crime and violence in the country, The threat of terrorism in the country

6. Cultural links

The degree to which the national culture is open to foreign ideas, The degree of equal treatment for tourists

The criteria are broken down into measurable indices (italicized) . The raw data came from the United Nation World Travel Organization, the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2010 of the Institute for Management Development (IMD), The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2010 of the World Economic Forum and from tourism reports of the individual governments.

Instead of just automatically ranking based on raw data from the indices, they apply a novel approach, the Fuzzy Rasch model in Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (FR-TOPSIS).  In this approach, they ask experts to score the degree of importance of each indices.  These enable the authors to calculate weights that are then used in TOPSIS, a way to check how it is similar to the ideal case.  The larger the value obtained in TOPSIS the better the rank.

The ranking is as follows:

1. China
2. Japan
3. Hong Kong
4. Malaysia
5. Thailand
6. Singapore
7. Taiwan
8. Korea
9. The Philippines

The authors further clustered the competitiveness ranking as High (China, Japan and Hong Kong), General (Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore), Low (Taiwan and Korea), and Weak (The Philippines). Even with clustering, though, the authors say that every country has unique areas to improve on. China for example needs to improve its peace and stability while Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong’s cost of living are much too steep.  Taiwan and Korea do not have well connected flights within the region.

UPDATE: Here is a visualization by Manyeyes.

Tourism Competitiveness of 9 neighboring countries in Asia

Graphical representations, based on the results of J.-H. Huang, K.-H. Peng, Tourism Management 2012.

Many Eyes

The Philippines’ case is different. Except for affordability, the country needs to step up in ALL aspects according to the authors.  The country is ranked the lowest in 4 of 6 criteria – the availability of attractions and services, positive market image, and peace and stability.

It is not a question of whether the travelers to the Philippines infused more cash compared to travelers to its neighbors. In fact, an average visitor to the Philippines spent 2.5 times more than an average visitor to China in 2010.  Spending by a tourist in the Philippines is almost similar to Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.  It is just that there are NOT too many travelers to the country.

The Philippines lacks hotels and has a very small number of airlines compared to its neighbors.

The quality of life and the natural environment is also one of the lowest. The data, which is based on the World Economic Forum and on the Institute for Management Development, can be seen as an overall impression of a tourist of a certain destination.

Also, the authors write, “Potential tourists do not want to visit a place that they perceive as unsafe.” The Philippines is the lowest in all measures of Peace and Stability.

The cultural links criterion is based on the target market; hence, it can be improved.   The Philippines has no problem with openness to foreign ideas but can be biased to the nationality of the tourist.

This study is very important in the light of the news that the Philippines is set to launch its new campaign in the world’s largest travel trade show this March 7, 2012 [3].


My two cents.

While I think that the paper is well executed, I believe that there is an intrinsic correlation between criterion 1 and all the other criteria.  This is quite obvious from the indices used for criterion 1 that it could be dependent on the others. Also, the positive market image has an intimate relationship with peace and stability.

The results has a strong correspondence with the data in [1]. The study were done from data of 2009.


[1] United Nations, Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2011. link here.

[2] Huang, J., & Peng, K. (2012). Fuzzy Rasch model in TOPSIS: A new approach for generating fuzzy numbers to assess the competitiveness of the tourism industries in Asian countries Tourism Management, 33 (2), 456-465 DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2011.05.006

[3] http://www.rappler.com ( 04 March 2012). It’s more fun in PH’ takes global stage. Retrieved from http://www.rappler.com/nation/2079-it-s-more-fun-in-ph-takes-global-stage