CHIANG RAI, 17 August 2018: Safety and stability are key factors that help to rank the liveability of a city, or destination, according to the latest Economic Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index 2018.
Vienna in Austria for the first time toppled Melbourne, Australia, that has up until now been declared the world most liveable city for seven years in a row.
Just two Asian cities, Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, were listed in the top-10 liveable cities worldwide.
For various reasons cities in Southeast Asia need to do better in the liveability rankings. Singapore was the top placed destination at 37th out of the 140 cities. It ranked just two slots down from 35th placed Hong Kong.
But for the rest of Southeast Asia, its cities are not as liveable as we might have thought. Kuala Lumpur scored 78th place out of 140 and Bangkok trailed in the 98th spot.
Manila languished in 103rd place, followed by Hanoi at 107th and Ho Chi Minh City at 116th, but the two Vietnamese cities should take heart from the fact that over five years they have demonstrated they are among the big improvers
Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, gained the 119 spot an improvement on its 125th spot in 2017, while Phnom Penh in Cambodia ranked 125th of the 140 cities studied.
There are many factors involved in gaining a high spot on the liveability rank, but stability is one. It involves an assessment on petty crime, violent crime, civil unrest, military conflicts and terrorism.
While the liveability ranking is not specifically linked to tourism a high score of the kind that Vienna registered to gave it the top spot suggests tourists can enjoy a stable and secure environment when they holiday in the Austrian capital.
Today, security and travel safety are seen as essential factors and both are crucial if the destination we promote is to deserve a “world class” branding.
Promoting travel to destinations that have a poor safety record, or plagued with petty and violent crime, is a thankless task and even a losing battle. The facts will shine through and travel confidence suffers with every incident.
Dealing with safety and security is a priority and the Tourism Authority of Thailand is now tackling the issue head-on.
Last week it hosted a brainstorming forum to improve tourist safety and security and at its conclusion officials confirmed the country would initiate a sweeping overhaul of all safety and security measures relevant to the tourism industry.
Minister of Tourism and Sports, Weerasak Kowsurat, presided over the forum themed “Travel around Thailand, Safe Everywhere”.
He noted: “Thailand has recently experienced numerous incidents impacting the safety and security of both Thais and foreign tourists. This has had a negative impact on the image of tourism and could potentially impact on the tourist atmosphere of the country over both the short and long term.
“In the short term, it could lead to cancellation of travel bookings. In the long term, it could lead to a lack of confidence in the service business, especially in relation to the safety and security of life and property of tourists.”
The forum correctly concluded that if Thai tourism was to maintain its competitive advantage it was necessary to set measures and guidelines to strictly enforce the rules and regulations.
Often rules have been on the books for decades, but there is evidence of a lack of compliance that has led to a compromise in safety for both residents and tourists.
Thailand like its neighbours needs to raise the bar and tackle the disregard for safety rules on the road and at sea.
By doing so, Thailand will be perceived as a quality tourist destination that goes along way to instilling a sense of confidence.