The World's Most Tourist-friendly Countries
Tourist service infrastructure doesn’t sound very exciting, but a country’s readiness to greet visitors can make or break a vacation.
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 tourist service infrastructure, which demonstrates the countries' capacity to host large numbers of tourists — and the ability to do so well. This includes the number of hotel rooms per capita, the quality of tourism infrastructure, the presence of major car rental companies, and even the number of ATMs per adult.
The countries’ rankings for tourist service infrastructure is separate from their rankings for international openness — that is, visa requirements, bilateral air agreements and trade agreements. It’s also looked at separately from a country’s prioritization of travel and tourism, which rates the brand strategies of tourism organizations and how much importance governments place on the tourism sector.
Below is the World Economic Forum’s definitive ranking of the 15 countries with the best tourist service infrastructure to visit in 2017.
Ireland’s tourism infrastructure is ranked 15th globally. In individual rankings, the country ranked 27th for quality of tourism infrastructure, 25th in number of ATMs per capita and 17th in number of hotel rooms per capita.
In 14th place is Bulgaria, with a 13th place score for number of hotel rooms per capita and a 24th place score for ATMs per adult. Bulgaria doesn’t do so well in terms of the quality of tourism infrastructure though, landing in 96th place.
Iceland ranks 13th for tourist service infrastructure. The presence of the major car companies and the ranking for hotel rooms per capita — second in the world — give the country a boost.
Luxembourg’s 12th place score comes from placing 18th for number of hotel rooms and ATMs per capita. Their quality of tourism infrastructure isn’t among the top scores globally, however, as they rank 37th.
Italy places 11th in the rankings for tourist service infrastructure. Their score for number of hotel rooms — in 12th place — helps their rating.
Canada's main distinction is that they have the second-highest number of ATMs per capita globally, however, they’re the only country in the top 15 not to offer all seven major car rental companies. (It’s doubtful that the latter does much practical damage: They have six.)
Germany ranks ninth in the list of the world’s most tourist-friendly cities, with all seven major car rental companies present and a 14th place score for number of ATMs per adult. Germany also ranks third in the overall ranking of best all-around tourist destinations, with great scores in cultural and business resources and accessibility by air.
Australia is in eighth place, with highs scores in all the indicators. In addition to doing well in terms of tourist service infrastructure, Australia has great natural resources to offer, as well as cultural resources and business travel offerings.
7. United Kingdom
The U.K. ranks highly, landing in the top 25 for all indicators. For number of ATMs, they are in eighth place, and the quality of their infrastructure for tourists ranks 23rd.
Switzerland’s sixth place ranking comes from scores in the top 20 for all the indicators. The European nation also does well in the other Travel and Tourism Competitiveness categories, including safety and security, environmental sustainability and business environment.
Croatia ranks fifth for tourist service infrastructure, with plenty of hotel rooms and ATMs per capita. Although the quality of their infrastructure is comparatively low, ranking 65th, Croatia has plenty else to draw tourists, with high scores in natural resources and environmental sustainability.
Portugal ranks highly in every indicator under the tourist service infrastructure category, and especially so in ATMs, car rental companies and quality of tourism infrastructure. They also have high scores in other Travel and Tourism Competitiveness categories, including safety and security and international openness, making the country an all-around comfortable place to visit.
3. United States
The United States is the third most prepared destination for tourists in the world. The availability of ATMs per adult is high and so is the quality of tourism infrastructure, both ranking fifth globally.
Spain’s tourist service infrastructure ranks second globally. They place fourth for quality of tourism infrastructure and ninth for number of hotel rooms per capita. Spain ranks first in the overall Travel and Tourism Competitiveness global survey, too, meaning it’s an excellent place for a vacation.
Austria is the world’s most tourist-friendly country, with high scores across the board. In addition to having all seven major car rental companies, the European country places third for quality of tourism infrastructure and fifth for number of hotel rooms per capita.