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Wet weather sends Swiss in search of holiday sun

Has anyone seen the Sun?

(Keystone)

A wet first half of July has sent many Swiss rushing to book last-minute holidays in search of some elusive sunshine.

But while the bad weather at home is good news for travel agents, clothing retailers are having trouble shifting their summer collections.

In Switzerland, as in other parts of Europe, the start of the summer holiday season has been marked by below-average temperatures and heavy rain.

Travel agents say the cold and wet weather has led to an increase in demand for last-minute beach holidays.

Hotelplan, a leading tour operator, says it has seen a significant rise in late bookings.

"People have been waiting a long time for summer temperatures and now they just want to leave," said company spokeswoman Claudia Zimmermann.

Rival tour operator Kuoni says it only has a small number of last-minute offers available for the rest of July.

“When choosing destinations, flights and hotels, customers are going to have to be very flexible,” said spokeswoman Andrea Hemmi.

Package holidays from Switzerland to popular Mediterranean hot spots such as Turkey and Cyprus have nearly all sold out.

Travel agents are reporting limited availability for trips to the Canary and Balearic Islands.

Retail therapy?

Closer to home, there was mixed reaction to the bad weather from some of Switzerland's retailers.

"We hope we don’t end up with masses of unsold stock. But it all depends on the weather," said Monika Weibel, spokeswoman for Switzerland's largest retailer, Migros.

But the company says it is has no plans to lure customers into its stores by bringing forward the start of its August sales.

Managers at Loeb, a Bern-based department store, say they are not unduly concerned about the impact of the prolonged bad weather on profits.

"Business isn’t going too badly. In fact, people tend to go shopping when the weather is bad," commented Loeb spokeswoman Madeleine Elmer.

Globus, another Swiss retailer, remains confident that summer is just around the corner.

"There are still six weeks of summer sales to go and there will be some warm and dry days, just as there are every year," said Janneke de Bruijn, manager of a Globus store in Zurich.

Not unusual

Though the grey skies are encouraging many Swiss to pack their bags and head for the sun, meteorologists say periods of changeable weather such as those seen so far this summer are not unusual.

“May and June were absolutely what we expected them to be,” said Stephan Bader of the Swiss Weather Service.

The same period last year during the the so-called "summer of the century" may have been warmer, but the temperatures during both months this year were slightly higher than recent averages.

But weather forecasters concede that the last two weeks have been unusually cold and wet, with only 20 to 30 per cent of the sunshine usually seen during the month of July.

Bader points out, however, that the first half of July has not been quite as wet as it could have been.

“We’ve certainly seen summer months which have been a lot worse than this.”

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Many Swiss are rushing to escape the bad weather at home by booking last-minute holidays in the sun.
Destinations of choice include Turkey, Cyprus and Croatia.
Meanwhile, Swiss clothing retailers are struggling to sell summer collections.

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