Swiss snowfall buries skiers' credit crunch fears

Thu Dec 18, 2008 1:14pm EST
 
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Skiers are flocking to Swiss resorts to take advantage of heavy December snowfalls with bookings so far unaffected by the global financial crisis, a tourist board official said Thursday.

"The conditions are just so perfect at the moment and people are really keen to get to the mountains," said Daniela Baer, spokeswoman for the Swiss Tourism Board.

Bookings for accommodation over the Christmas and New Year period will remain on a level comparable to last year's, when a record number of people visited ski resorts, Baer said.

The number of tourists traveling to Switzerland from countries hardest-hit by the economic downturn such as Britain and the United States was expected to decline slightly from January, Baer said.

But the full impact from the slowdown was not likely to be felt by the Swiss tourism industry until spring and summer of 2009.

This year's early snowfall has even reached low-lying Zurich, Switzerland's financial center.

"People want to enjoy life and make the most of what is on offer. I guess there is also a greater need now to escape from everyday life," Baer said.

(Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Charles Dick)

 
<p>A man removes snow outside a window of a hotel in the village of Saas-Fee in the Swiss southern Alps October 30, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>