Swiss hotels poised for big losses after record 2019

Fewer tourists than usual on the Kappellbrücke, Lucerne. Keystone / Alexandra Wey

The Swiss hotel industry could lose out on up to half a billion francs in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19, the boss of the country’s tourism body has said.

Keystone-SDA/dos

Martin Nydegger of Switzerland Tourism said on Monday that he expects the virus to account for some 2.1 million fewer overnight stays in Swiss hotels this year compared with 2019, amounting to financial losses of CHF532 million ($574 million).

The expected losses, which mirror the dour outlook for many businesses across the world, come after a record tourism year in 2019, which saw just under 40 million overnight stays.

“Not everyone will survive this,” Nydegger told the AWP news agency. “Unfortunately, some establishments will be forced to close”.

With operating margins are already so low in the sector, he said, even a resurgence of fortunes in good times would not be enough to cover the losses from this crisis.

His comments also came on the same day that the Federal Statistical Office released tourism figures for the month of January, which was paradoxically a rather bumper month; hotel stays by both Swiss and international tourists increased markedly, by 7% and 5.7% respectively.

The first coronavirus case was announced in Switzerland on February 24. The number of cases has since risen to over 300. Although no official travel bans have been implemented, travelling to areas heavily impacted by Covid-19 is discouraged. Swiss International Airlines have also announced the cancellation or slimming of services to destinations, including China.

On Saturday, the director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) ruled out any short-term stimulus programme for businesses hit hard by falling demand due to the disease.

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