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Booming summer takes pressure off tourism operators

Switzerland is still pulling the tourists, despite strong overseas competition


The Swiss tourist industry has enjoyed one of its best years, following a boom in the number of overnight stays during the summer.

The latest figures, released by the federal statistics office on Monday, are welcome news for tourist operators who fear that unseasonably warm weather this winter could dent visitor numbers.

The number of overnight stays during the summer rose by 823,000 over 1999, an increase of 4.5 per cent. The biggest rises were recorded in central Switzerland and the Bernese Oberland.

Overall, Swiss hotels recorded a total of 19.15 million overnight stays from May to October. The statistics office says the figures are especially impressive in the light of massive flooding in October, which kept visitors away.

It adds that the healthy figures are a clear indication that Switzerland is holding its own against strong international competition, both in terms of price and quality.

The biggest rise was in the number of overseas tourists coming to Switzerland. They accounted for 11.44 million overnight stays - an increase of 6.2 per cent over last year.

More tourists from the United States, Japan, France, Britain, the Netherlands and Austria chose to come to Switzerland, but visitor numbers from Germany, Italy and Israel declined.

Overnight stays for Swiss tourists, holidaying in their own country, accounted for 7.71 million hotel beds, a rise of two per cent.

The increase in tourist numbers is heartening news for Swiss winter sports providers, who fear a slowdown because of the unseasonably warm weather so far this winter.

Snow has yet to fall in many lower-lying areas, and tourism officials say this could lead to a fall in bookings if the weather does not change soon.

swissinfo with agencies

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