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A sober assessment from the Swiss

2008 May 14
by Skip Sauer

Euro 2008 takes place next month in Austria and Switzerland. It is the most significant soccer tournament among national teams, save the World Cup. At least one reporter is throwing cold water on the idea that hosting the tournament will stimulate the Swiss economy:

Hundreds of thousands of soccer fans will spend millions of francs on beer, bratwurst and beds at Euro 2008 next month.

The world’s third-largest sports event will be no more than a drop in the ocean for the Swiss economy, however, and will not save the Alpine nation from following the rest of the world into slowdown.

“The economic effect is so small, it will be hard to detect in the statistics,” said Urs Mueller, director of Switzerland’s BAK Basel economics research institute.

Up to 1.4 million foreigner visitors will add business for hotels and restaurants and for retailers selling merchandise and food, and may create 7,500 jobs, though most of them will be temporary.

That could create an additional gross value added of up to 860 million Swiss francs ($813.6 million), a Swiss government study showed, making up less than 0.2 percent of the Swiss economy which has a size of some $420 billion.

…”The World Cup [Germany, 2006] has put millions in the coffers of FIFA and the German Football Association DFB but the economic impact of the sport event was very limited,” concluded the German DIW research institute in a study last year.

Germany hosted four times more matches than Switzerland will, with 32 teams participating in the World Cup comparing to the 16 at Euro 2008.

Some sectors might get a boost from the world’s third-biggest sports event after the World Cup and the Olympics.

Swiss hotels expect more than half a million additional overnight stays, coming on top of last year’s record 36.4 million stays.

A fraction of the half million rooms might represent displaced visitors. But on net, if you own a hotel, an event like Euro 2008 should provide a significant revenue boost. Profits too, provided that the fans don’t tear up the place.

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