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Domestic tourism faces downturn

After three good years, difficult times lie ahead for Switzerland's tourism industry, economists said on Tuesday.

A joint report by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) and BAK Basel Economics forecast that the number of hotel nights in the country would decline by 2.4 per cent between November 2008 and April 2009.

The decline will be most marked among guests from abroad.

The industry is suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis and the depreciation of the euro against the Swiss franc. Two-thirds of all foreign guests come from the euro zone, the report said.

The report says that the number of hotel nights is likely to decrease by 3.0 per cent for the tourist year 2008-2009 as a whole, and that growth will return only in 2011, at 1.3 per cent.

Many Swiss people, on the other hand, will travel south over the Christmas holiday. Popular destinations include the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean, according to tour operators.

The most popular destinations would record growth in double-digit figures, said operator M-Travel.

For Swiss choosing to stay home, the most popular destinations will be the winter sport areas of the southeastern canton of Graübunden, the Bernese Oberland and the southern canton of Valais.


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