Switzerland Tourism has welcomed next month’s re-opening of borders with France, Germany and Austria. It believes the country’s reputation for cleanliness and tidiness could be a selling point once the Covid-19 pandemic dies down.
“What doesn’t seem very sexy in normal times can be a big plus in times of crisis,” said Urs Eberhard, deputy director of Switzerland Tourismexternal link, in an interview with news agency Keystone-ATS on Thursday.
Asked whether guests should wear protective face masks in Swiss hotels, Eberhard said Switzerland has a “very strong” concept of protection against coronavirus – for hotels, restaurants and tourist transport – which the organisation plans to publish on its website to inform guests and “create trust”.
Eberhard said it was important that Switzerland and its neighbours now coordinate their protection measures. He also welcomed the recommendation made on Wednesday by the European Commission to the Schengen statesexternal link to re-open their internal borders. He saw this as a “signal” for tourism.
No cut-price offers
Nevertheless, he acknowledged that it might take time for foreign travellers to return.
“Initially, we’re relying above all on domestic customers. One can’t underestimate the fact that in times of crisis people need to hide themselves away,” Eberhard said. “Many will therefore spend their holidays in their own country.”
But “sooner or later” people will feel the need to travel, and foreign tourists should therefore return “in the medium term”.
As for non-European visitors, it was difficult to say when they will return, according to Eberhard. “First of all, the external borders of the Schengen area will have to be re-opened.”
But he said one thing was certain: Switzerland would “not make any offers at cut-rate prices”.
“Rather, we could use this new beginning to convince people to stay with us longer. This would also increase added value,” he said.