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Leg-up Stimulus package to help tourism hit by coronavirus

Folded tables in front of wooden bridge

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Swiss tourist industry is unprecedented, according to officials. 

(Keystone/Urs Flüeler)

The government is considering a financial package to help boost Swiss tourism, a sector particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The economics ministry and parliamentary committees are examining a proposal by the national marketing organisation, Switzerland Tourismexternal link, for a stimulus package worth CHF40 million ($41.3 million), according to Erik Jakob of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

“But first we have to assure the tourism industry survives [the shock] before we can invest,” Jakob told a news conference on Monday.

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Demand has collapsed and bookings are on hold. The industry is expected to suffer a drop in revenue of up to 35% this year, according to SECO estimates.

So far, the government has granted the tourism sector loans and short-time work unemployment benefits. It is also considering regional promotion programmes.

Jakob said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is not comparable to previous crises, notably the strong Swiss franc, and it could take tourism in Switzerland more than 12 months to recover.

Domestic market

He added that a campaign to promote Swiss holiday destinations would have to focus on domestic customers before it can try to attract tourists from abroad.

“It is difficult to find the right moment for the launch of a promotion drive,” he said.

Jakob said customers must first gain confidence in the health safety precautions taken by the tourism sector, including hotels, restaurants as well as transport. Efforts are underway to prepare specific measures.

The tourism industry, considered one of a key sectors for the country’s economy, produced revenue of CHF44.7 billion in 2018 - about 3% of GDP - according to the Swiss Tourism Federationexternal link.

swissinfo.ch/urs

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