A proposal to prohibit face-covering veils could become another setback for Swiss hoteliers already contending with an overvalued currency.

The strength of the franc against the euro has forced the country's tourism industry to look to China and the Middle East instead of its traditional visitors from Europe. Making it illegal to cover one's face in public, as voters in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino decided two years ago, would make it tougher for the sector to attract the big spending Gulf visitors it needs to offset a decline in guests from countries such as Germany, its industry chief said.

"Arab countries are an increasingly important market for us," said Andreas Zuellig, president of the Hotellerie Suisse association. A ban "doesn't really enhance our image of hospitality," he said.

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