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Consumer boost Sunday shopping to lure more tourists

The Foxtown shopping centre on the border with Italy can now keep its doors open seven days a week without breaking Swiss law

(Keystone)

Restrictions on Sunday shopping in Switzerland are being eased under certain conditions as a part of efforts to boost tourism and the regional economy. 

Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann says major shopping centres within 15km of the Swiss border serving primarily tourists and selling luxury goods can open their doors also on Sunday. 

The measure, agreed by the government on Wednesday, currently applies to two centres with about 1,400 employees in the Ticino and the Graubünden regions. The decision is due to come into force in April. 

“Shopping is part of the Swiss experience for many tourists,” Schneider-Ammann told a news conference. 

He said the move was only a slight easing of labour regulations and would help boost the competitive edge of Switzerland’s regional business under pressure from the strong Swiss franc. 

Schneider-Ammann hinted that other border regions might consider introducing Sunday shopping in special malls. 

Tourism and SMEs 

The cabinet also agreed to facilitate credits for the hotel industry in an effort to help the sector adapt to legal restrictions on the construction of holiday homes and cope with the strong Swiss currency. 

A package of CHF374.2 million ($401 million) was also earmarked to boost small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the promotion of foreign trade over the next four years. 

Schneider-Ammann stressed the need to ease the administrative burden for companies and projects to make winter tourism more attractive. 

“It is all about jobs and keeping the competitive edge of the country’s economy,” he summed up. 

However, the cabinet has not yet decided on proposals to grant additional tax breaks to regional businesses. 

Schneider-Ammann reiterated it was premature to call for a major economic stimulus package to soften the impact of the strong currency.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch


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