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Numerous stars celebrate in Swiss winter

The resort Gstaad by night

Politicians and celebrities galore are coming to Swiss winter resorts to celebrate New Year in sunny weather and ideal snow conditions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian businessman Lakshmi Mittal and American actor Johnny Depp are apparently all in prestigious resorts in the Swiss Alps.

Various royal families from the Middle East, heads of governments from Europe and elsewhere and many guests from India and China are currently in the Engadine valley, says Hanspeter Danuser, head of St Moritz tourism.

"On top of this virtually the whole business elite from Zurich, Munich and Milan have gathered here," Danuser added.

Rumour has it that even the French president Nicholas Sarkozy will spend a few days in the Swiss Alps.

"Shopping for them is almost as important as hitting the slopes," Danuser said.

Shops and restaurants make an estimated turnover of SFr200 million ($177.6 million) in the two weeks around Christmas and New Year.

Discretion

Numerous guests from Russia, Britain, Germany and Switzerland travelled to Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn in the southwest of the country. However, guests from Hollywood stayed away apparently because of the expensive Swiss currency.

"Our hoteliers are very discreet," says head of tourism in Zermatt, Daniel Luggen.

The same attitude is demonstrated by the head of tourism in resort of Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland, Roger Seifritz.

He believes that the boss of the sailing syndicate Alinghi, Ernesto Bertarelli and the French crooner Johnny Hallyday are both in Gstaad.

Seifritz says it is possible that the likes of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, German football legend, Günter Netzer, Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy or the Swiss star actress Ursula Andress might be celebrating their New Year in the Bernese Oberland.

"We haven't had so much snow and such beautiful weather here in the final week of the year for a long time," says Seifritz.

Western Switzerland

The resort of Verbier in western Switzerland welcomes billionaire businessman Richard Branson, a regular guest for years, according to head of tourism Patrick Messeiller.

The tourist authorities in the nearby resort of Crans-Montana expect actors Roger Moore, Gina Lollobrigida and Alain Delon to arrive, just as the Belgian royal family and celebrities such as Lolita Morena and the artist Knie family.

Slightly less chic is the holiday destination of Oasis singer Liam Gallagher who travels to Champéry, just like Andrew Fletcher of Depeche Mode and members of the group Daft Punk.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Russian group Mirax has plans to build a huge hotel complex in Crans-Montana.

It wants to invest up to $300 (SFr338 million) for the construction of hotels, apartments and a shopping centre on a 60,000m2 in the Valais mountain resort.

The local and cantonal authorities have both come out in favour of the project, but there is still a ban on the sale of property to foreigners.

Such a ban was lifted in the resort of Andermatt in central Switzerland where the Egyptian businessman Samih Sawiris is building a tourist resort.

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