Greece dropped two places in the third annual Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009, published by the World Economic Forum, as it ranked 24th among 133 countries.
This year’s report, published under the theme “Managing in a Time of Turbulence,” reflected the difficulties the industry currently faces, which must be overcome to ensure strong sectorial growth in the future.
According to the report, Greece, which ranked 18th in Europe, continues with a stable performance when compared with 2008. Cyprus is ranked 15th in Europe and 21st overall.
The report found that Greece benefits from rich cultural resources (ranked 23rd), excellent health and hygiene (ranked 19th overall), and top-notch tourism infrastructure (fifth place).
The World Economic Forum found that Greece, along with Mauritius and Singapore, is ranked the highest (third place) in terms of the country’s overall prioritization of travel and tourism.
The report underlined that this is given to the importance of the sector for Greece’s economy, and it is borne out through its high government expenditure in the sector, strong destination-marketing campaigns, and country-level presence at key international tourism fairs.
Furthermore, there is a strong national affinity for tourism compared with many other European countries, including a generally open and positive attitude towards tourists (16th place).
However, the country’s overall ranking is held back by its policy rules and regulations that are not entirely supportive of the sector’s development (ranked 57th), with stringent rules governing foreign direct investment, and with foreign ownership restrictions as well as significant time and cost involved in starting a new company.
Also, in terms of environmental sustainability Greece ranked 47th as in safety and security, while in price competitiveness Greece is in 114th place. Another area of weakness is the country’s ground transport infrastructure, which is less efficient than in many other European countries.
The report underlined that Greece’s quality of railroads and ports are of particular concern.
As for international competition, the report said that Greece, along with Turkey, is differentiating its products and pursues expansionary tourism policies.
Local analysts say that based on these results Greece’s tourism policy should include the improvement of business and regulatory environment and the general infrastructure in combination with the protection of the natural environment.
Greece’s tourism policy should also proceed with the continuous upgrading of human resources at all levels, they added.
At an international level the 2009 top ten rankings of the report are: Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Sweden, the United States, Australia and Singapore.
According to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009, these are high-income countries with a developed business environment, a favorable regulatory framework, modern infrastructure and adequate human and physical resources.
The report’s rankings were based on the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, which measured the different regulatory and business-related issues that have been identified as levers for improving travel and tourism competitiveness in countries around the world.
The index was developed in close collaboration with the International Air Transport Association, the World Tourism Organization, the World Travel & Tourism Council and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.