Pandemic crashed demand for hotels and trains

Far more hotel beds were empty than usual in the first half of this year. Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

The number of overnight stays in Swiss hotels practically halved in the first six months of the year. Covid-19 also hit demand for public transport, with passengers notching up a third of their normal distances by train in the past three months.

This content was published on August 4, 2020 - 11:12

Hotels saw 9.9 million overnight stays from the start of the year until the end of June, a drop of 47.5% compared with the same period in 2019.

The year had started well for the hospitality industry, with January and February showing increases in guest numbers, before Covid-19 virtually shut the business for the next three months. Overnight stays plummeted 62% in March, 92% in April and 79% in May compared with the previous year.

The fall in numbers was particularly pronounced among foreign guests (minus 88% in the first half of 2020) compared with a quarter fewer domestic guests. June saw improvement, with 1.44 million overnight stays in Swiss hotels, but this was still 62% below 2019 numbers.

Not on track

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown also saw a 63.6% reduction in kilometres being clocked up by passenger trains between the start of March and the end of June. Freight transport was less affected, with almost 14% fewer kilometres being covered in the same period.

Wearing face masks became compulsory for train passengers from July 6.

In the autumn session, parliament is due to debate a proposed CHF800 million ($872 million) rescue package for the public transport sector.

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