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Is your home country one of the ‘unfriendliest’?

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Home sweet home? A report by the World Economic Forum lists the friendly and not-so-friendly countries.

March 19, 2013 3:11 by

Earlier this month, the World Economic Forum released the findings of a report (Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report) that – among other things – ranks the world’s friendliest and unfriendliest countries in one long list. Of course, it doesn’t merely focus on that aspect – as it actually delves into each country’s tourism infrastructure, safety and human resources – but the “Attitude of the population toward foreign visitors” category stands out as the most interesting, and provocative.

Provocative, you say? Why, yes it is. As with any global report of this scale, the findings are bound to ignite a wave of protests around the world. And when I say world, I mean Twitter. Nobody wants to hear about their country being dubbed ‘unfriendly’ when they’ve experienced the extremely heart-warming moments that prove otherwise. But I have a message for all you would-be offended folk out there. Don’t take it too seriously. No report can ever keep everyone happy.

After all, regardless of the criteria used to rank these countries – which according to CNN is ‘based on the extent to which they are putting in place the factors and policies to make it attractive to develop the travel and tourism sector’ – it still remains a highly subjective exercise. On the face of it, a country can appear extremely friendly and hospitable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Would you believe your neighbours to be warmhearted welcoming people just because they’ve bothered to have a welcome mat on the front doorstep? Trust me, they’re not. And Kipp found that out the hard way the day we had to borrow some salt and a plunger.

For instance, when it comes to hospitality (not customer service, don’t kill me!) in the United Arab Emirates, let’s face it; the reputation here is pretty darn good. Assuming everything is smooth sailing with hotel bookings, visas and various other reservations, you’ll probably have the time of your life.

And yet, the UAE still earned the 15th friendliest country on that list. It just goes to show that this exercise truly is subjective. Yes it focuses on the attitude of the population towards foreign visitors (aka tourists) but considering the population here is predominantly an expatriate one – the results don’t make much sense. If they’re referring to the general population (including us) then why on earth would most of us display a negative attitude towards visitors – when all we are is nothing more than extended tourists?

Who earned the first place? Iceland.

To see the top 10 from each category, click here. To read the entire report by WEF, click here.

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