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Canada one of world's top 10 tourist destinations: latest survey shows

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TORONTO - Canada continues to be one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the world, the latest survey by the World Economic Forum suggests.

The WEF's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, which assesses 140 countries across 14 different categories and evaluates their appeal to travellers, said Canada scored eighth in this year's rankings, up one spot from the last survey two years ago.

It cited a number of factors for Canada's allure, including a variety of natural resources, rich cultural diversity and strong air transport infrastructure.

The fact that Canada plays home to a number of World Heritage Sites, including the Rocky Mountains, the historic section of Quebec City and the Rideau Canal, was another draw, the report said.

But it also said Canada had lost some ground with would-be globe-trotters by not maintaining competitive prices and failing to enforce some key environmental protection measures.

While the country's policies are still relatively strong, the report said tourists don't believe they are being executed as effectively as they could be.

"(Canada) registers a decline in the perception of the enforcement of environmental regulations and continues to suffer from high CO2 per capita emissions," said the report.

Canada's ranking placed it as the second-most attractive destination in the Americas, trailing only the United States, which placed sixth in the global rankings.

The top five positions were all nailed down by European countries, making that continent the most appealing region for travellers.

Switzerland held first place, a position it maintained for the fifth consecutive survey. Germany came second, followed by Austria, Spain and the United Kingdom.

France came in seventh place, Sweden ranked ninth while Singapore rounded out the top 10. Haiti was ranked last on the list.

The WEF said travel and tourism represent a key driver of economic growth around the world. The report cites data from the World Travel and Tourism Council saying the industry currently accounts for one in 11 jobs on the planet. That number could rise to one in 10 over the next decade, the report said.

The WEF said international tourist arrivals jumped four per cent in 2012 and are expected to maintain a similar growth pace in the coming months.

The report, which was released last month, said countries hoping to maintain an economic edge would be wise to try and capitalize on the trend.

"In a world that is ever more volatile and an environment that is ever changing, new capabilities in tourism management and sector development are vital if an economy is to become more resilient against disruptive events and to prepare for long-term stability," it said.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version wrongly said Switzerland topped the list for the seventh year in a row and incorrectly suggested the survey was annual.

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