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Foreign tourists dig deeper into their wallets

Switzerland remained an attractive destination for tourists in 2008, with foreign visitors spending just over SFr1 billion ($930 million) more than in 2007.

The Federal Statistics Office said on Thursday that foreign tourists spent SFr15.6 billion in Switzerland in 2008 despite the economic downturn. That is an increase of 6.7 per cent on 2007.

The bulk of the spending came through overnight stays, for which visitors paid SFr8.3 billion in hotel, spa and other holiday accommodation.

The scenic mountain canton of Graubünden, in southeastern Switzerland, was the most popular area for tourists. The region counted more than six million overnight stays, compared with more than four million in cantons Zurich and Valais. The Bernese Oberland registered just under four million overnight stays, while Geneva and the Lake Geneva region logged 2.8 million and 2.6 million, respectively.

But Swiss travellers spent less overseas, despite a favourable exchange rate. Figures show that they paid out SFr11.8 billion in 2008, a drop of around two per cent against the previous year. The top destinations remained Germany, Spain and the United States.

Swiss tourists spent less time in Austria, France, Italy and Britain than in 2007, the statistics office said. and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR