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Switzerland tops tourism competitiveness index

Switzerland has retained its position as the world's best place for the tourism and travel business, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said on Tuesday.

Austria, Germany, France and Canada followed, but the Geneva-based WEF said current economic troubles had not yet made their way into the rankings. Thea Chiesa, a WEF economist, said the situation would be different next year.

"We will see the current stimulus plans, being implemented by different nations, start to bear fruit," Chiesa said.

Infrastructure and environmental sustainability are among the WEF's 14 major factors when measuring competitiveness in the tourism sector.

"To thrive, or even survive, in this period of uncertainty and change, both the travel and tourism industry – and destinations themselves – will need to approach the challenges in a holistic and systemic manner," Chiesa said.

The report also explored the impact of oil prices on the tourism industry and the importance of price competitiveness.

Jennifer Blanke, a senior economist with the organisation's global competitiveness group, said countries must look at long-term issues that will come into play once the economic crisis subsides.

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