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Swiss tourism booming despite drop in foreign visitors

The number of tourists visiting Switzerland has risen for the third year in succession, but the number of foreigners visiting the country has dropped.

The number of tourists visiting Switzerland has risen for the third year in succession, but the number of foreigners visiting the country has dropped.

The president of Switzerland Tourism, Dick Marty, said although prospects for the future are good, the tourism industry must make an effort to ensure it can offer good quality holidays.

Marty said that while overnight stays in hotels and holiday homes increased by nearly one per cent in 1999 - to just over 68 million - the number of foreigners making up those figures were not as high as expected. With only 57 per cent of holidaymakers coming from outside the country, he said efforts to attract foreigners to Switzerland must be stepped up.

One area in which there was a marked increase in popularity was farm holidays. Numbers there shot up by 12 per cent, to nearly 100,000 overnight stays.

The biggest rise in overall numbers was among guests from India, Britain and the Irish Republic, while there were less tourists from neighbouring Germany.

The winter results for the 1999/2000 season were particularly good, with a year-on-year increase of nearly two per cent. Stormy weather caused a lot of damage in December, but on the upside, heavy snowfall resulted in excellent skiing conditions.

A favourable exchange rate and good-value package deals combined to produce 125,000 more overnight stays than in the previous winter. Most of the foreign holidaymakers were from Britain, France, Germany Italy and the United States.

Business travel and city breaks appear to be the biggest growth areas, with Zurich and Geneva taking the lion's share of the rise in overnight stays.

swissinfo and agencies

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