Brunei scores high in Asia-Pacific’s price competitiveness

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam is a top scorer in price competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific region in the recently released Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2019 of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The Sultanate ranked second globally, thanks to low fuel prices (6th) and ticket taxes and airport charges (14th).

Besides price competitiveness which the Sultanate scored 6.6, it also scored high in safety and security (6.1), health and hygiene (5.5) and ICT readiness (5.4).

Globally, Brunei Darussalam ranked 72nd among 140 countries and territories. The Sultanate’s position was not recorded in the biannual ranking in 2017.

Released recently by the World Economic Forum every two years since 2007, the TTCI 2019 analysed 140 economies and scores each according to their performance on the following six pillars – air transport infrastructure, ICT readiness, price competitiveness, international openness, travel and tourism prioritisation, and safety and security.

Spain is the top performer for the third consecutive report, while United Kingdom’s (UK) slight decline in competitiveness has led to it being overtaken by the United States (US).

The top 10 are – from the highest to lowest score – Spain, France, Germany, Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland. India (40th to 34th) had the greatest improvement over 2017, among the top 25 per cent of all countries ranked in the report.

Egypt (74th to 65th) had the best improvement among countries ranked 36 to 70, Serbia (95th to 83rd) had the largest improvement for economies ranked 71st to 105th, and Bangladesh (125th to 120th) was the most improved among the remaining 25 per cent of scorers.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore was ranked as the most competitive travel and tourism economy, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam in sixth place.

Seven of the Southeast Asia’s nine economies improved their T&T competitiveness, since the last edition of the report. The Philippines had the fastest rate of improvement, moving up four places to rank 75th globally.

The country showed impressive improvement on overall infrastructure (90th to 80th) and ICT readiness (86th to 82nd), but still faces challenges when it comes to safety and security (135th).

On the other hand, Singapore had the greatest percentage decline in score (losing four places) but remains the sub-region’s most competitive T&T country, ranking 17th globally. It has a world-class business environment (2nd), human resources and labour market (5th), ICT readiness (15th), safety and security (6th), T&T policy and conditions (2nd) and overall infrastructure (3rd).

Despite this, Singapore dropped from first to third for international openness, due to increased visa requirements (16th to 50th) and a drop in scores for its natural (103rd to 120th) and cultural resources (28th to 38th).

Cambodia (98th) remains the lowest scorer in Southeast Asia, trailing the subregion on the enabling environment (106th) and infrastructure (101st) subindexes. Thailand (31st) has Southeast Asia’s largest T&T GDP, which is reinforced by some of Asia-Pacific’s most attractive natural resources (10th) and most efficient tourist services infrastructure (14th)

Earlier this year, the Tourism Development Department at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism figures revealed that in 2018, the tourism sector has reached another milestone in international tourist arrivals to Brunei Darussalam through the Brunei International Airport, with the highest number of arrivals ever recorded.

International tourist arrivals grew by 7.4 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) from 258,955 tourists in 2017 to 278,136 tourists in 2018. This achievement surpassed the initial projection of 277,774 tourists for 2018.