The UK is ranked as the world’s fifth most powerful country for travel and tourism in new research.

China is top followed by the US, India and Mexico with the UK above Spain, Turkey, Canada, Indonesia, Australia and the UAE.

The new ‘power ranking’ by the World Travel & Tourism Council combines growth over the past seven years in tourism’s contribution to GDP, international visitor spend, domestic tourism spend and capital investment.

The study, issued to coincide with World Tourism Day yesterday, ranks the performance of 185 countries over the last seven years, combining four indicators – contribution of travel and tourism to GDP, international visitor spend, domestic tourism spend and capital investment in tourism.

The inclusion of domestic spend and investment allows for a more rounded measure of performance and prioritisation than the more usual measures of GDP contribution and international spend, according to the WTTC.

The ‘power’ ranking looks at countries whose travel and tourism has grown most in absolute terms over the seven years. These countries are those which are powering growth in the sector.

WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said: “WTTC’s new report outlines power and performance rankings which showcase countries that have been most successful in growing their tourism sectors across the board.”

A separate ‘performance’ ranking looks at countries where travel and tourism has grown most quickly in percentage terms over the past seven years.

These countries are maximising the opportunity of tourism to drive economic development:

1. Myanmar
2. Iraq
3. Georgia
4. Rwanda
5. Iceland
6. Nicaragua
7. Qatar
8. Congo
9. Armenia
10. Ivory Coast

Guevara added: “Notably, G20 countries dominate the league, representing 12 of the top 20 countries, displaying once again the importance of travel and tourism both to mature markets and the global economy.

“Then, the emergence of up-and-coming countries highlights the central role that tourism can play within developing economies.

“WTTC advocates that such growth is driven by strong travel facilitation policies, sustainable and proactive planning, and robust infrastructures that can withstand crises. Under such management,

Travel and tourism can thrive, as in the case of Indonesia where radical visa reform has been matched by a rapid growth in international tourist arrivals in the last seven years.”

“WTTC recognises countries who have worked strategically to capitalise on the economic benefits of the travel and tourism sector and realise opportunities for continued growth.

“To this end, we invite government, policymakers and industry leaders to share their case studies with us as part of WTTC’s new recognition programme, which will identify proven methods for success and promote best practice across the globe.”