The World’s Most Connected Countries
There are many factors travelers look for when picking and planning their next vacation, like the local cuisine and the number of museums. One that likely doesn’t come to mind, however, is airport infrastructure.
But it might be time to take connectivity into consideration.
More connected countries are usually cheaper to fly into and out of, but having good airport infrastructure also means less time spent waiting for flights.
In the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report, 136 countries are ranked on 14 pillars, giving an all-around picture of the best destinations for tourists, globally. One of the pillars on which countries are ranked is airport infrastructure.
The report looks at several indicators to determine which country does air travel best. The number of seats available on both international as well as domestic flights is multiplied by the number of kilometers that route takes, which yields a number for “available seat kilometers.” The number of aircraft takeoffs and the number of airlines operating in a country is also measured, both per capita. Lastly, the quality of airport infrastructure is ranked on a scale of one to seven.
Across the globe, it's easier than ever to get on a plane and wake up in another country. For travelers short on time and looking for an easy way to connect with the rest of the world, here are the 15 countries with the best airport infrastructure.
15. New Zealand
It might be far-flung, but New Zealand is fairly well connected. This nation landed the 15th spot thanks to its large number of airports and airplane takeoffs per capita. Although the population is relatively small (boosting these figures), travel is also part of the New Zealand way of life, and Auckland serves as a hub for travel between the Pacific Islands and much of the rest of the world.
Turkey is centrally located on the Eurasian continent, meaning it’s a great hub for travel between the Middle East and Europe. They rank 12th for the number of airlines operating in the country, and also do very well for available seat kilometers on domestic travel, ranking eleventh.
France places second in the report’s broader global ranking, which considers multiple characteristics — so the fact that it’s easy to get to is just a bonus. France has the second highest number of operating airlines of any country in the world, and ranks seventh for international airline kilometers available.
Germany is in 12th place for airport infrastructure, and is in third place for the number of operating airlines. Tourists will find it's easy to get around once there, too: the European destination ranks in fifth place for ground and port infrastructure. With a third place score on the overall ranking, easy transport is far from the only reason to go.
Switzerland ranks 11th in terms of air travel, and does very well in terms of quality of airport infrastructure, landing the eighth place spot. Switzerland also scores highly overall, with excellent tourism infrastructure, environmental sustainability, and safety and security. The one thing that might hold tourists back? Switzerland is one of the least affordable countries in the world.
At number 10 on the list is the Netherlands, which has the fourth best quality of airport infrastructure in the world. The Netherlands is also very easy to travel around once tourists are on the ground, and its proximity to the rest of Europe gives travelers the ability to see a lot in short amount of time.
Spain’s connectivity with the rest of the world is a perk that means it’s easier for tourists to get to the report’s overall first-place destination. With top scores in prioritization of tourism and travel, as well as tourism infrastructure, natural, cultural and business travel, Spain’s allure as a tourist destination is undeniable.
8. United Kingdom
In eighth place for airport infrastructure is the United Kingdom. The UK serves as a hub for entry to much of Europe, and its scores in number of airlines (third place) and available seat kilometers internationally (second place) reflect that. They have also upgraded travel and tourism infrastructure heavily since the last report, climbing 30 spots to number seven, meaning an improved experience for tourists once they arrive.
Norway is also extremely well connected, and has some of the highest numbers of airplane departures (fifth) and airports (fourth) globally. The Scandinavian country has plenty else going for it, too: it’s one of the safest countries in the world, travel and tourism are a high priority, and they do a great job of sustaining their breathtakingly-beautiful environment.
Singapore is in sixth place overall for air travel connectivity but ranks number one for the quality of airport infrastructure. (If you've ever been to Changi International Airport, you know why.) They also rank well in ground and port infrastructure (second place), meaning it’s easy for tourists to get around once they’re on the ground.
5. Hong Kong
Hong Kong ranks well across the board. With excellent scores in business environment (first place) and prioritization of travel and tourism (ninth place), it makes sense that they are also doing a good job bringing people to and from the country. The quality of airport infrastructure is ranked third, meaning travelers are likely to have a pleasant and easy journey.
Australia’s distance from much of the rest of the world hasn’t stopped them from staying connected. It's even difficult to get from one side of the continent to the other (it takes about five hours to fly across Australia). But ranking in eighth place for domestic air travel is a strong indicator that there are plenty of painless options to do so.
3. United Arab Emirates
The UAE ranks well across the board, and is in third place for the most connected country globally. Their rise in tourism reflects the ease and comfort visitors have in getting to and around the country: the UAE saw 14.4 million international visitors in 2015, a 4 million-person jump from only two years prior.
2. United States
In the number two spot is the United States, which has more operating airlines and available seats per kilometer (both international and domestic) than any other country. The quality of airport infrastructure also ranks well.
The world’s most connected country is Canada, which performed well in all of the indicators. Canada has plenty of airlines and airports, and airplane departure numbers to reflect that. It also does well on the report’s global ranking, placing ninth, and is an overall attractive destination.