Israel has dropped to place 72 – out of 141 countries – in the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum.
High prices and security concerns were the main factors behind Israel’s drop.
In the last report, published in 2013, Israel was in place 53, meaning that it has dropped a massive 19 places in two years.
In the Middle East region, Israel ranked seventh, down from third in the previous report. This time around, it ranked after the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
The main factor dragging Israel down was price competitiveness, in which it ranked 136 out of 141 countries. Also low were its rankings for environmental sustainability, safety and security and international openness.
On the plus side, Israel received high rankings for ICT (information and communications technology) readiness (32,) health and hygiene (36) and human resources and the labor market.
Spain was ranked the most competitive country for travel and tourism in 2015, followed by France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Australia.
Propping up the bottom of the list were Chad, Guinea, Angola, Yemen and Mauritania.
"With its unique cultural history and religious significance, Israel is at the crossroads of three continents and has a number of World Heritage cultural sites (26th,) according to the report. "The country performs well on ICT readiness (32nd), and on the Human Resources and the Labour Market pillar (39th), with especially good rankings on the Ease of finding skilled employees indicator (17th).
"Infrastructure is mostly well developed, yet more investments are needed in tourism infrastructure (72nd). Similar to other countries in the region, Israel’s tourism is affected by concerns about safety and security (99th), terrorism (130st) and instability from conflict.
"Other areas for improvement include low price competitiveness (136th) and political will to address environmental sustainability (101st)—T&T is not being developed with particular attention to the environment (110th) and there is low international commitment on environmental agreement (128th)."
The Tourism Ministry noted in its response to the report that it has increased its marketing budget to promote Israel and is planning to introduce new airline routes.
"We are working and investing in new target audiences in niche markets such as sports tourism, music and birding and we are convinced that this will bring positive results in the near future," the ministry said in a statement.
"The Tourism Ministry works in ongoing collaboration with other relevant government ministries, for example with the Transportation Ministry to improve public transport in order to enhance the tourist experience."