By  on May 3, 2007

The World Economic Forum has developed its Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, an analysis of 124 countries and their potential for developing travel and tourism. ";This sector [travel and tourism] is such a valuable driver of economic prosperity around the world," said Jennifer Blanke, senior economist of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Network. The study is not just a ranking of nations with pretty scenery. A total of 13 factors and policies were measured, including safety and security, transportation infrastructure, price competitiveness, national tourism perception, health and hygiene, natural and cultural resources and human capital.

SWITZERLAND

Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index score: 5.66

Rich in cultural and natural resources, Switzerland ranked highly not only for its natural attributes, but also its transportation infrastructure, protected land and tourism support from the Swiss government. Outdoor enthusiasts travel here to ski, hike and climb the Alps each year, as well. ";Because this is a wealthy country, its one clear weakness is price competitiveness — everything is expensive," said Blanke. Indeed. In Geneva, Switzerland's capital, shopping is abundant, especially for tourists in search of some high-end Swiss watches. Patek Philippe, Swatch and Piaget all have shops there, and the upscale Globus Department Store is located in the center of Geneva's shopping district, surrounded by designer shops such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.

AUSTRIA

TTCI score: 5.54

";Austria's tourism-specific infrastructure is rated as the best in the world, ahead of Germany," noted the study. The Alpine country also rates well regarding safety and security and environmental regulations, and has a very low crime rate. Vienna is home to the popular shopping street Mariahilfer Strasse, but fashionistas favor the Neubaugasse area — home to the flagships of the G-Star and Swedish WeSC brands, along with the PARK concept store. PARK features fashions from European designers such as Hussein Chalayan and Raf Simons. Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg (left), is rich in music, art and architecture — the city also served as the setting for Robert Wise's 1965 classic, ";The Sound of Music."

GERMANY

TTCI score: 5.48

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