Kenya is now the third highest ranked sub-Saharan African country in terms of its travel and tourism competitiveness, according to a World Economic Forum report released last week.

The report says Kenya has moved ahead of Namibia into the third position in the ranking which includes factors such as the business environment, safety and security, health and ICT readiness.

However, Uganda is the most improved country in the region in the survey moving up eight places to 106, 26 behind Kenya in 80th place.

Despite falling two places Kenya remains one of Africa’s competitive tourist economies but with no African countries in the world’s top 50, much still needs to be done to improve matters the report says.

The report says that despite sustained economic growth, travel and tourism “remains mostly untapped”.

It adds that the biggest problems for travellers remain air connectivity, transport infrastructure and travel costs as well as visa policies and infrastructure. Twenty of the 30 sub-Saharan countries covered by the report apply ticket taxes and airport charges above the world average.

Significant concerns have been raised about the loss of some critical animal species, including large numbers of elephants in the continent and the report says deforestation and habitat loss are becoming “problematic” in some countries. Ten African countries have lost at least seven per cent of their forests.

“While tourism in the region is mainly driven by natural tourism, there is significant room for improvement in protecting, valuing and communicating cultural richness,” the report concludes.

The aim of the report, which covers 136 economies this year, is to provide a comprehensive strategic tool for measuring the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel & tourism sector.

The World Economic Forum has, for the past 11 years, engaged leaders in travel and tourism to carry out an in-depth analysis of the Travel and Tourism competitiveness of 136 economies across the world.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index enables all stakeholders to work together to improve the industry’s competitiveness in their national economies.

The theme of the latest report ‘Paving the Way for a More Sustainable Future,’ reflects the increasing focus on ensuring the industry’s sustained growth in an uncertain security environment while preserving the natural environment and local communities on which it so richly depends.