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Doors open for the hotel industry

Guests spend an average of 2.5 nights in Swiss hotel beds.

(imagepoint)

Swiss hotels recorded a 5.7 per cent increase in overnight stays over the first six months of the year, beating tourist industry expectations.

Traditional holiday destinations, including the mountain resorts of Davos and Zermatt, and cities were among the main beneficiaries of the upswing.

Figures released by the Federal Statistics Office on Wednesday show a total of 17 million overnight stays in Swiss hotels and sanatoriums.

Foreign tourists accounted for a 6.7 per cent increase, while there was a 4.4 per cent rise in the number of Swiss tourists between January and June.

Statistically the most successful period was June, which was exceptionally warm this year.

"The good results reflect the general economic recovery in our main markets, notably Germany and the United States," said spokesman Oliver Kerstholt of Switzerland Tourism.

"At the same time the emerging markets in Asia, such as China, and eastern Europe did well," he added.

He said tourists from the US were no longer afraid to travel abroad following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the start of the conflict in Iraq.

"Americans have a lot to catch up on," Kerstholt told swissinfo.

Mountain resorts

The traditional tourist regions of Graubünden, in southeastern Switzerland, and Valais - in the south - as well as the region of Zurich stood out, according to official data.

The mountain resort of Davos is top of the table with an increase of 26.4 per cent, ahead of Basel with 20 per cent.

"An important factor is no doubt the improved economic situation in Europe, but also the fact that we had favourable weather conditions during the winter months," said Vladimir Pilman of Davos Tourism.

He said a contributing factor was possibly also a new offer which allows hotel guests in Davos to use the public transport for free.

The mountain resort went through a couple of difficult years, said Pilman, and welcomes the marked increase in tourists from Britain and Italy. Traditionally Davos has been popular among German visitors.

For its part, the city of Basel benefited from the increase of flights by low-cost airlines, including easyJet, into Basel-Mulhouse airport but also from its well-established infrastructure.

"The example of Basel, but also of the region of Zurich, shows that city tours have become more popular again," said Kerstholt.

Outlook

Tourism officials are optimistic about a further recovery of the industry in the second half of the year after a sunny and hot July.

Kerstholt said he was convinced that the period of poor results for hotels was at an end.

However, the Swiss Tourism Federation, the industry umbrella organisation, was cautious about the sustainability of the economic upswing and the volatile political situation.

It also pointed out that competition was fierce and many hotels would not be able to reduce their prices.

swissinfo, Urs Geiser

Key facts

In June there were 5,678 hotels and sanatoriums in Switzerland.
They offered a total of 141,995 rooms and 270,622 beds.
The most popular holiday region is Graubünden ahead of Valais, the Bernese Oberland and central Switzerland.
Most clients are Swiss (43.1% overnight stays), 17.3% come from neighbouring Germany and 6.8% from Britain.
The biggest increase in overnight stays in the first 6 months of 2006 was recorded among guests from Brazil, Ireland and Ukraine.

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