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Swiss travel industry is upbeat for 2002

Swiss holiday makers are likely to head for the Mediterranean this summer Keystone

Leading travel agencies in Switzerland say they are fast recovering from the slowdown in foreign travel after the attacks of September 11.

A rise in holiday bookings since the start of 2002 is expected to increase further with the forthcoming round of travel shows around the country, which it is hoped will awaken the wanderlust of Swiss holidaymakers.

The yearly round of the major travel shows kicks off in Bern on Thursday, followed by the FESPO exhibition in Zurich, with others to follow.

Hans-Peter Nehmer of the travel agency Hotelplan is confident that the strong start to the year will pick up even more with the start of the holiday shows, while rival travel agent, TUI, has also noted more interest in its brochures in 2002.

However, TUI executive Roland Schmid was more cautious about anticipating a boom for the industry, explaining that interest did not always materialise into bookings.

Customer confidence

According to Oskar Laubi, director of RBM, the fourth largest tour operator in Switzerland, current holiday reservations are showing a definite upward trend and are proof that customer confidence is returning.

While bookings in November 2000 were 35 per cent down on the same period in 1999, the numbers for January are up, although still 10 per cent lower than at the start of 2001, said Laubi.

The strength of the Swiss Franc is seen as a major boost to the travel industry, going some way to negate recent hikes in flight prices, increased to foot the bill of tighter security measures.

Top destinations

As in 2001, Swiss tourists will be headed for warmer climes this year, say industry experts, with the Mediterranean remaining a favourite destination for summer holidays.

Morocco and southern Turkey are also increasingly popular, particularly among early bookers, according to Eve Sobotic of the travel agency, Kuoni.

There are also more Swiss holidaying in neighbouring countries such as France and Italy since the terrorist attacks, says Schmidt of TUI, and there is greater demand for holiday flats in those countries.

The outlook for the US remains bleak, however, with bookings unlikely to increase in 2002, predicts Laubi of RBM, adding that prices of holidays in North America have not yet been reduced to take account of the downturn.

The tourism crisis in US is also having a knock on effect on the Caribbean and South America, which, like Arab countries, are out of favour with holiday goers.

Asia is perhaps the main beneficiary of the slowdown in US tourism, with many holiday makers cancelling US-bound trips at the last minute and heading for Asian destinations instead, says Laubi.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR