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Middle East tourist dip adds to hotel slump

The number of foreign tourists to Switzerland has continued to shrink over the summer, with the biggest drop felt in visitors from the Gulf states.

The overall number of overnight stays by foreign visitors fell 4.5 per cent to 2.5 million in August, according to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office on Monday. It is the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

Year-on-year overnight stays by visitors from the Gulf states fell by 39 per cent to 56,000. In Geneva alone, a popular destination for visitors from the Middle East, overnight stays dropped by 45,000 (16 per cent).

Geneva Tourism said 2008 had been a record number for overnight stays comparatively and this year the Muslim month of Ramadan had fallen during August, with perhaps fewer people from the Gulf states visiting as a result.

Zurich also had fewer foreign visitors, with stays down by 32,000 (seven per cent). But Basel, canton Bern and the Jura posted moderate increases.

British stays fell by 31 per cent to 50,000, while those from the United States dropped by six per cent. Chinese visitors increased by 34 per cent to 6,600 overnight stays.

Measured from January, the number of foreign guests has fallen 8.2 per cent, representing 1.3 million fewer overnight stays during those eight months.

The number of visits by Swiss tourists also dropped, but by a smaller margin. The number of overnight stays by Swiss visitors reached 1.7 million in August, representing a decrease of 2.1 per cent.

Since January, overall stays have declined by 6.4 per cent, to 25.3 million. and agencies


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