The Swiss parliament on Tuesday decided to support the ailing tourism industry with SFr190 million ($122 million) over the next five years, despite criticism of inefficiency from some political corners.This content was published on December 7, 1999 - 11:21
The Swiss parliament on Tuesday decided to support the ailing tourism industry with SFr190 million ($122 million) over the next five years, despite criticism of inefficiency from some political corners.
Swiss Economics Minister Pascal Couchepin said the financial injection would have an important ripple effect and would also boost tourism-related industries. He said the government support was vital as the tourist industry could not afford to lose any more market share.
The Switzerland Tourism organisation, which is the key player in marketing Switzerland’s tourist attractions, is co-financed by the government and the private sector. The government covers two thirds of the budget while the rest is put up by Swiss industry.
The Swiss tourism industry has been on a worrying downhill slide since the first half of the 1990s. Between 1990 and 1996, overnight stays dropped by up to 5 percent. A UBS bank spokesman told a Swiss newspaper in an interview three days ago that the tourism sector was deeply in the red. He said debts currently stood at about SFr20 billion ($13billion), mostly affecting Swiss hotels.
Some members in the House of Representatives have therefore criticised the latest government injection, saying it supports an organisation that needs to seriously reorganise itself to become more competitive.
However, most parliamentarians agreed that Swiss tourism was becoming more market conscious and was clearly improving quality and performance.
Couchepin has repeatedly underlined the importance of tourism, which is one of Switzerland’s key industries.
Last month, he urged tourism operators to improve local and regional cooperation – for instance in such sectors as hotel bookings and ski lift management – to save costs and become more competitive.
Switzerland has a relatively high price level in the tourism sector, Couchepin underlined, adding that it is very important to offer good value for money.
Despite the difficult situation that Swiss tourist resorts are in, economic forecasters are optimistic about the future. They predict, for instance, that overnight stays will again increase by 3.7 by 2002. Market watchers also say that Millennium tourism should help boost turnover in the various winter and summer resorts.
From staff and wire reports.
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