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Gstaad was not a complete wash-out

Rain affected business as well as play at the Gstaad Open Keystone

Rain drops rather than drop shots took centre stage at this year's Swiss Open in Gstaad, but while the weather did exact a financial toll on the tournament, it was not all bad news for business.

Spaniard Alex Corretja’s victory over Mariano Puerta of Argentina crowned a tournament during which weather more befitting of a week in November constantly drowned out play.

Time and again organisers were forced to rearrange matches in an effort to keep the order-of-play on schedule. They tried everything; simply being patient, playing on extra courts, even playing on indoor courts.

In the end, the rain won, and although two quarter-finals and both semis were squeezed into Sunday, the final had to be delayed by one day.

Officially, this year’s tournament had about 44,000 visitors. But the event’s financial co-ordinator, Jürg Horn said this figure related to the total number of tickets sold – and clearly many ticket holders didn’t turn up because of the weather. And the elements inevitably had an impact on the tournament’s takings.

“I think we made a loss of about SFr150,000,” he said. “However, on Friday, when we couldn’t even play for a minute, we were covered by insurance.”

Any losses should be covered by sponsorship deals and television rights, so Horn said he did not expect the tournament to have made a loss overall. Furthermore, the Swiss bank, UBS, which signed up as main tournament sponsor for the first time this year, has confirmed it will be back next year.

Perhaps the biggest weather-related headache the organisers faced was explaining the system for ticket refunds. “On Wednesday and Thursday we had people demanding reimbursements” said Horn. “But if there has been more than one hour of play the policy is not to make any.”

While tennis fans were hit hard by the rain, and the tournament organisers lost money on some days, local businesses fared rather better. The Open week normally accounts for around SFr10 million, taking into account turnover and the promotion of Gstaad’s image abroad.

Although revenues will not be as high as in most other years – with a lot of extra staff hired in vain – the hotel trade did well, weather notwithstanding.

“In and around Gstaad, 2,500 hotel beds were booked for the whole week,” said Roger Seifritz, director of the Gstaad tourist office. “We did not have a problem with hotel beds.”

The same is true of the local restaurants. Roman Stefan, owner of “Charly’s Bar” situated outside the main entrance to the tournament grounds was philosphical about the effects of the bad weather on his
business over the week.

“This week is the strongest week in the year – generally – although this year it was a little bit less” he said. “But while the rain and cold temperatures meant customers could not use the great terrace we have – inside was still full every time.”

Furthermore, restaurants a little further away from the tennis courts were able to benefit from the weather because people spent more time over lunch and dinner, according to Stefan,

Those businesses that suffered most perhaps were the big international companies inside the tournament pavilion; they were there to promote their products to people who just didn’t turn up.

By Jonathan Summerton

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR