High prices blunt Swiss tourism’s cutting edge

High prices have knocked Switzerland off its pedestal for travel and tourism competitiveness, according to a new report from the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.

High prices blunt Swiss tourism's cutting edge
City of Lucerne: gateway to central Switzerland. Photo: Switzerland Tourism

The strengthened Swiss franc has made stays in the mountain country more expensive, undercutting its other advantages, the WEF indicated in the report published on Wednesday.

The organization’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index Ranking for 2015 puts Switzerland in sixth place, down from its first place ranking in the previous 2013 index.

Spain tops this year’s list, jumping from fourth spot, ahead of France, Germany, the United States and the UK.

Switzerland ranks ahead of Australia (seventh), Italy (eighth), Japan (ninth) and Canada (tenth) among the 141 countries surveyed.

Chad is in last place, ahead of Guinea and Angola.

Switzerland has world-class tourist services infrastructure and ranks first for such criteria as human resources, labour market and environmental sustainability, and has the second most stringent environmental regulations.

It also has “an extremely conducive business environment” (fifth), the report says.

But Switzerland’s weaknesses include a “restrictive visa policy and low price competitiveness,” the WEF said.

The Swiss could improve its pricing situation “by expanding its offer of leisure and entertainment activities to complement the traditional focus on natural tourism”.

Spain, where costs are considerably lower than in Switzerland, leads the index for the first time.

The third most visited country in the world with around 61 million arrivals a year, Spanish tourism is benefiting from a surge in visitors from emerging markets such as China, Brazil and Mexico.

Second-ranked France continues to attract the most tourist in the world with more than 84 million arrivals, but it and Spain are rapped by the WEF for high business costs and red tape.

For more on the forum's report, check here.

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