Austria beats Switzerland in top destinations

Zermatt is the top-rated Swiss destination Keystone

Only four Swiss destinations are among the 15 most popular in the Alps, according to a ranking dominated by Austria and published by BAK Basel Economics.

This content was published on March 11, 2008 - 09:35

Zermatt came in second in a survey of 100 holiday destinations, ahead of Engelberg (fifth), Lucerne (11th) and St Moritz (14th). Austrian resort Kleinwalsertal topped the list.

The results presented on Monday by the research organisation show that eight Austrian towns were among the top 15. The survey only considered destinations receiving at least 150,000 guests per year.

Factors such as the evolution of demand, bed occupation and prices were taken into account to establish the ranking. Since it was first published in 2005, both Kleinwalsertal and Zermatt have held onto the top two spots.

According to BAK, both resorts have done well because of their efficient use of available capacities and also because they can keep prices high.

The ranking changes though if seasonal factors are taken into account. In winter, it is the Austrian resort of Lech-Zürs that comes out in the top spot. Zermatt is fifth, Samnaun is 11th and Arosa 14th.

The Swiss have some reason to cheer when it comes to summer. Lucerne and Interlaken took the top two positions. Engelberg came in 11th, Grindelwald 14th and Lugano 15th.

Luxury helps

The BAK researchers say that luxury hotels help make destinations more competitive. These establishments know how to make the most of what they can offer and also help fuel overall demand for other types of hotel rooms.

For winter destinations, the attractiveness of the ski domain is a vital element, but also the guarantee of snow. Resorts such as Zermatt have invested heavily in snow guns to ensure that the slopes are always white.

While there are alternatives to traditional winter sports, they cannot replace snow-based activities according to the survey's authors. In summer, diversity is the key factor for a destination's competiveness.

BAK has also developed an attractiveness indicator for holiday destinations. St Moritz does best both in winter and summer in this case.

Swiss destinations do generally better in this type of ranking. In winter, Davos is third, Verbier sixth, the Portes du Soleil tenth, ahead of Zermatt in 13th position and Gstaad in 14th.

In summer, Interlaken and Grindelwald finish in second and third position. Wengen comes in seventh, Davos 12th and Lucerne 14th.

BAK says that the Alps are a major tourist destination, attracting four per cent of the global tourism market. In 2005, the Alpine region registered 475 million overnight stays, including 102 million in Switzerland alone.

The survey pinpoints one major problem for the Alps as a whole: hotel beds only represent half the capacity of alpine destinations. This is reflected in the growth of overnight stays, which stagnated between 1990 and 2006, while it increased substantially elsewhere.

swissinfo with agencies

The top 15

1. Kleinwalsertal - Austria
2. Zermatt - Switzerland
3. Salzburg - Austria
4. Achensee - Austria
5. Engelberg - Switzerland
6. Kitzbühel - Austria
7. Gröden - Italy
8. Innsbruck - Austria
9. Seefeld - Austria
10. Schenna - Italy
11. Lucerne - Switzerland
12. Oberstdorf - Germany
13. Lech-Zürs - Austria
14. St Moritz - Switzerland
15. Kärnten - Austria

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