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summer holidays Coronavirus exit plans for tourist industry mooted

President Sommaruga and three men waiting outside a building

Sommaruga (left) met representatives of more than ten tourist associations on Sunday.

(Keystone/Anthony Anex)

Hopes have been raised of a re-opening of tourist facilities, including restaurants, in Switzerland in June as part of the government’s exit strategy from the coronavirus restrictions.

President Simonetta Sommaruga said the government would examine options, coordinated with the tourist industry, by mid-May.

“There are a number of options. I think it is crucial for the population to know that they can go on holiday in Switzerland,” Sommaruga told public radio SRF following talks with industry representatives on Sunday.

Economics Minister Guy Parmelin and Interior Minister Alain Berset also participated in the meeting.

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All participants agreed that the summer season is crucial for tourism and that solutions have to be found which respect the government’s health safety rules to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic to spread again.

"Tourism is not only an important economic factor for Switzerland but also has an emotional component. People want to be able to look forward to their next holidays," said Erik Jakob, senior official of the State Secretartiat for Economic Affairs.

He warned that the tourist industry can't expect to go back to normal in July or August. International tourists are likely to stay away from Switzerland for a longer period of time, Jakob told a news conference on Monday. 

Further talks between the government and tourism representatives are scheduled for the end of May, according to officials.

The tourist sector employs more than 180,000 people and accounts for about 3% of GDP. 

Impatience

The government is facing increasing pressure from sections of the business community and from right-wing and centre-right political parties to speed up the end of the lockdown.

In a first step, garden centres, florists, hairdressers as well as dentists and physiotherapists have been allowed to re-open on Monday.

In a second phase, set for May 11, primary schools and all shops are to reopen – provided the number of infections continue to drop.

Other sectors of the economy, including tourism, sport and entertainment, are still waiting to hear how and when they can resume business.

More than six weeks ago, the government also introduced a ban on public and private gatherings of more than five people in Switzerland.

swissinfo.ch/urs

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