Last year more tourists came to Switzerland from China than from traditional visitor countries such as Italy, the Netherlands or Japan.
“We’re looking at 830,000-840,000 overnight stays by Chinese guests in 2012,” Daniela Bär from Switzerland Tourism told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.
In total, 600,000 Chinese tourists came to Switzerland, an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year.
Most tourists to Switzerland still come from Germany, but Bär says because their number is declining, that could soon change.
“The rapidly growing middle class in China offers a massive potential for Switzerland, which enjoys an excellent image over there,” she said.
“We think a quadrupling of Chinese visitors within ten years is realistic.”
At present the most popular destinations for the Chinese are Lucerne, Interlaken, Zurich and Geneva.
“We’re now organising new tours throughout the country so other regions can also benefit, such as Engadine, Valais, Ticino and Appenzell,” Bär explained.
The watch industry is one of the main beneficiaries of this Chinese boom, according to consultants KPMG. Many Chinese tourists prefer to buy luxury watches here because they know they won’t be buying an imitation.