PETALING JAYA: Malaysia came in second after Singapore among nine South-East Asian nations in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The report released on April 5 showed Singapore topping the table, followed by Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Globally, Malaysia dropped a spot from 2015 to 26th out of 136 countries. It, however, improved on its overall performance in the various indicators, rising from 4.41 points in 2015 to 4.50 in 2017.
The biennial report said Malaysia's improved performance was attributed to its price competitiveness, strong air connectivity, and beautiful natural resources.
The WEF report engaged leaders in the travel and tourism industry for an in-depth analysis of the industry competitiveness of 136 economies that accounted for over 98 per cent of the world's GDP.
The index measured a set of factors and policies that enabled the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, that included international openness, prioritisation of travel and tourism, human resources and labour market, health and hygiene, as well as safety and security.
The report said Malaysia could become more competitive by further prioritising the travel and tourism industry through investment in the development of its cultural resources and business travel.
It added that Malaysia should address environmental sustainability and preserve its beautiful natural environment.
In 2015, Malaysia recorded more than 25 million tourist arrivals, contributing almost RM80bil (S$25.5 billion) in tourism receipts.
Spain, with its unique offerings of both cultural and natural resources, topped the rankings for the second time with a score of 5.43. It is followed by France, Germany, Japan and Britain.
The WEF is a Swiss non-profit foundation that engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.