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Tourist magnet

Tourism officials say the festival has helped put Locarno on the map.

The Locarno region is also home to the Moon and Stars and Jazz Ascona festivals, but the film festival is a “very, very important” event for the region, according to Jeanne Gerber of the Lake Maggiore tourist office. “It gives us publicity and carries the name of Locarno to the whole world.”

The first weekend of the festival is usually the busiest and this year was no exception, with a visitor influx around the Cowboys & Aliens premiere on August 6. Gerber talked of a “last minute impact of the star effect”, with almost every one of the 7,835 beds in the region’s 165 hotels filled. Most of the tourists are from German-speaking parts of Switzerland, Germany and the Benelux countries.

So far, the biggest draws for film-goers on the Piazza Grande were Cowboys & Aliens (7,600 tickets sold) and the Cannes critics' winner Le Havre (7,300 tickets), Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki’s comedy-drama of the fight to save a young refugee.

Jessica Dacey in Locarno,

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