Hundreds of Swiss still stranded abroad, travel agent says

On Wednesday, South Africa added Switzerland to its list of countries facing travel bans. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Hundreds of Swiss travellers remain blocked abroad due to Covid-19 restrictions and cancelled flights. Travel operators and the foreign ministry are working to find ways to get them home. 

Keystone-SDA/dos

“We still have several hundred clients abroad who want to get back to Switzerland. We’re doing our best to find flights for them,” Bianca Gähweiler of Hotelplan Suisse told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Wednesday. 

The travel agent is scrambling to find solutions for clients in locations such as Morocco, South Africa, and Ukraine, where travel bans are in place for people from Switzerland. 

The foreign ministry, meanwhile, has called on Swiss travelling abroad to try to return as soon as possible due to the pandemic, but has reiterated that the costs of flights and other expenses must be borne by individuals. There is no legal basis for an organised repatriation. 

That said, it does operate a helpline, which is currently fielding hundreds of calls each day, while embassies and representations abroad are working diplomatically to help in the trickiest cases.  

On Tuesday, for example, Swiss tourists stranded in Morocco were able to begin returning home, as five commercial flights were allowed to leave the North African country, despite an official stop on flights to Switzerland being in place since last Saturday. 

According to the Blick newspaper, which contacted the foreign ministry on Wednesday, some 15,000 Swiss tourists are currently registered with the authorities. However, a ministry spokesman said the real number is much higher, and could be up to 50,000.

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