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Swiss tourist industry woos grey market

The Swiss travel and hotel industry is discovering a new market. A recent symposium in Zurich focused on travellers over 50 years of age, who are generally in good health, active and well-off.

The international symposium was organised by the International School for Tourism in Zurich and concentrated on the theme "50 plus - the Power Generation".

The over 50s account for 29 per cent of the Swiss population and the trend towards an older population is set to continue as more of the country's baby boomers move closer to retirement.

The over 50s of today differ from previous generations because they have more disposable income and generally enjoy better health. This makes this group increasingly attractive for the tourist industry.

However, the over 50s are not such an easy market to attract, according to Sabine Gysi of the International School for Tourism. "They have a strong need for quality, security and comfort," said Gysi, "and they don't like carrying their own luggage or having to make too many transfers."

More Swiss hotels and resorts have begun turning their attention to this high spending, ever growing sector. One hotel in Scuol, in canton Graubünden, has even started employing more over 50s, who can better relate to this older, and more demanding customer.

by Tom O'Brien

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