The number of European tourists staying in Swiss hotels fell by almost 10% in 2015. Overnight stays from the euro zone were the lowest since 1958.
The latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office were released at Switzerland Tourism’s annual press conference in Zurich on Tuesday. The strength of the Swiss currency was highlighted as the familiar reason for ongoing problems seen in the sector.
Overnight stays in Swiss hotels totalled 35.6 million in 2015, a drop of 0.8% over the previous year. Guests from abroad made up 19.6 million of these, a drop of 1.7% while Swiss guests registered an increase of 0.2% to 16.1 million.
The largest decline in stays was from the Eurozone with a 9.3% decrease in Europeans staying at Swiss hotels. Key markets hit include Germany (-12.3%), Belgium (-9.5%), Italy (-7.6%) and France (-6.2%). The Federal Statistical Office said that this could be clearly attributed to the removal of the franc-euro exchange rate peg by the Swiss national Bank in January last year.
The unfavourable snow conditions seen in Switzerland at the start of the winter season also left their mark. In December, there were 2.5 million overnight stays, 5.6% fewer than in the previous year. Foreign visitors staying in Swiss hotels fell by 9.1% during this time, among the Swiss the figure was 1.4%.
One positive change in the 2015 figures was the increase in tourists from Asia, whose numbers have been growing since 2009. Last year saw a rise of 18.6% in overnight stays booked by visitors from Asia, a new high and the first time the figures crossed the four million mark.
China has become the fourth most important market for Swiss hoteliers. The absolute growth to 344,000 overnight stay among guests from China and Hong Kong was an increase of 33.3%. Switzerland Tourism has been working on making the alpine nation an attractive destination for this market during the winter season, as tourists from China do not traditionally come to ski, unlike many European or Swiss holidaymakers.
swissinfo.ch and agencies