Good snow conditions and a weakening franc helped to boost tourism in Switzerland this winter, as foreign tourists flocked in large numbers to the Alpine nation.
Data released by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) on Thursday showed 16.5 million overnight stays in the period November 2017 to April 2018, a rise of 4.6% compared to the previous winter season.
Domestic demand, representing just under half the total, rose by 3.5%, the FSO wrote (in German)external link. Foreign visitors increased by 5.6%, driven in large part by Europeans – especially German, British, and French – flocking back to Switzerland after several years of stagnation.
Asian and Middle Eastern tourists also continued to grow. Some 8.7% more came this year, although their overall numbers remain significantly lower than the all-important Europeans.
US visitors accounted for some 685,836 overnight stays, up 6.8% on the previous year.
Early winter snow, as well as excellent skiing conditions throughout the season, were one factor contributing to the boom, according to the tourist accommodation group Parahotellerie Schweiz.
The growth also comes amid a strong Swiss economy and a weakening Swiss franc. Tourism was hit hard by the currency’s surge in January 2015, when the Swiss National Bank scrapped a policy of limiting its value against the euro and relative prices soared.
Most, though not all, Swiss tourist regions shared the spoils of the increased visitors; Italian-speaking Ticino lost 61,000 overnight stays, a drop of 9.2%.