ECONOMY

Safety fears harm tourism sector?s competitiveness

Increased visitor safety concerns have weighed on the global competitiveness of Greece?s vital tourism sector in the last two years, according to a report prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The report, which reviews the competitiveness of travel and tourism industries in 139 nations, said that Greece?s ranking slipped to 29th place from position number 24 in the previous report prepared in 2009.

?The decline in rank can be traced to factors such as a weaker environment policy and increased concerns about safety and security as well as a lower prioritization of travel and tourism within the country, perhaps not surprisingly given the country?s recent economic travails,? the report said.

On the plus side, the report gave top marks to Greece for its ?rich cultural resources, excellent health and hygiene and top-notch tourism infrastructure.?

Greece?s tourism sector accounts for about 18 percent of the country?s annual economic growth and an estimated one in five jobs.

Switzerland topped the list, followed by Germany and France. Cyprus was ranked in position number 24, down from 21st position two years ago.