Euro 08 faced with shortage of hotel beds

Thousands of fans are expected to come to the Euro 2008 football championships being co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria – but not all of them may find a bed.

This content was published on July 25, 2007 - 08:11

The four Swiss host cities – Basel, Zurich, Bern and Geneva – do not have enough hotel accommodation for such a huge influx of people and are searching for solutions. But they have already encountered problems.

An estimated five million visitors are expected to visit the championships – the third-largest sporting event in the world – next summer.

As welcome as the fans are, the Swiss host cities are still unsure where they are going to put them.

"We have too little capacity, and added to this there is a week's overlap with the Art Basel contemporary art fair," Christoph Bosshardt, the Euro 2008 delegate for Basel, told swissinfo.

Basel is therefore planning to build fan camps: cheap, privately run camping grounds for around 2,500 people.

But the plans for sites at Aesch, Pratteln and Liestal have already run into problems as the canton, Basel Country, requires building permits.

Bosshardt said he was surprised at the news, but did not think there would be any objections as the camping grounds would be built far from residential areas. But he could not rule it out.

"Then we'd have a problem," he admitted.

The authorities in Pratteln and Liestal have been cooperative and a selection process is already underway. There are strict regulations covering areas such as security, keeping order and infrastructure.

No camps for Bern

Fan camps were also once an option in the capital, Bern. Residents objected to a private initiative aiming to construct a site just outside Bern and another, on a city sports area, was also shelved.

"We are focusing on a combination of hotel bed offers from the whole region," said Marcel Brülhart, the city's Euro 2008 delegate, adding that distances in Switzerland were generally small.

But the city's 7,000 beds will not be enough if the big footballing nations, such as England and the Netherlands, are picked to play in Bern. The city will then open up its civil defence installations, such as bunkers, which are equipped with beds, said Brülhart.

Adding to the problems is the fact that the tournament also coincides for a week with the national parliament's summer session. An attempt to shift the session was rejected by the federal authorities.

People power

Both Basel and Bern have turned to their local populations for help with accommodation. Basel is looking for around 500 host families to take in fans. A hotel ship on the River Rhine is also an option.

In Bern, people can sign up on the city's tournament website if they are willing to house fans. "These things either work well or not at all," said Brülhart.

In the French-speaking part of the country, Geneva can offer 5,000 beds, including bed and breakfast accommodation.

The city will also set up a fan camp for around 3,000 people "in the atmosphere of an open air event", said Michael Kleiner, in charge of Euro 2008 for Geneva. The camp has been granted special permission by the authorities.

Zurich, Switzerland's largest city, is still focusing on hotels but fan camps along the River Limmat are "slated, but not yet definite", according to Daniela Leeb from the city's Euro 2008 organisers.

swissinfo, based on a German article by Renat Künzi

Euro 2008

The tournament will take place from June 7-29, 2008 in Switzerland and Austria.

15 of the 31 Euro 2008 matches will be played in Switzerland and 16 in Austria. The final will be in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

More than one million tickets will be issued.

Switzerland is expecting 5.4 million spectators, of which around 1.4 million from abroad.

2,500 journalists will be commentating on the games for eight billion television spectators in 170 countries.

The total cost is expected to be SFr182.1 million ($151.3 million). The Swiss government contribution is SFr82.8 million.

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Fan numbers expected

Basel: 250,000 at St Jacob's stadium and 750,000 at public outdoor screens. 110,000 overnight stays.

Bern: 100,000-200,000 for the three games in the city. Several thousand expected in inner city fan areas. Up to 80,000 extra overnight stays.

Zurich: Up to 1.4 million fans, 100,000-180,000 overnight stays of which 75,000-110,000 in hotels.

Geneva: Apart from the stadium, two extra fan areas are foreseen, each for several tens of thousands of visitors.

Uefa has estimated that Euro 2008 will generate around 800,000 overnight stays in Switzerland.

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