Farm holidays on the rise

Switzerland need not be an expensive holiday destination Keystone Archive

More and more tourists are choosing to spend their holidays on farms, at bed and breakfasts or even sleeping in barns on straw.

This content was published on July 25, 2003 - 15:02

Ambience and cost are two of the reasons most commonly cited for the boom in alternative holiday accommodation in Switzerland.

In 2002, Reka – an organisation which organises a voucher scheme for discount holidays – sold 100,000 overnight stays at its participating farms. The family holiday scheme was only set up 11 years ago.

“More and more families from towns and cities are keen to get back to nature on their holidays,” said Stefan Lack, Reka’s head of marketing.

Prices also play a significant role. A family with four children can spend a week on a farm for SFr350 ($260).

Hay fever

The “Sleep on Straw” programme, which has existed for ten years, is also proving popular.

Five years ago, there were 20,000 overnight stays; 35,000 in 2002; and that number is expected to rise to 40,000 this year.

The concept behind the scheme is simple. Equipped with a sleeping bag, you can hit the hay in Switzerland for SFr10-20 per night - including a breakfast of coffee, milk and bread - at about 220 farms around the country.

Facilities vary from basic straw-filled haylofts to accommodation with heating, recreation rooms, picnic and barbecue areas.

Toilets and showers are sometimes attached to the barn; in other cases, they're provided in the farmhouse.

Families and youth groups, hikers and cyclists are turning to this option in growing numbers.

Christian Stähli, president of the Sleep on Straw programme, said that the scheme complemented rather than replaced traditional holidays as people rarely wanted to spend more than a week sleeping in straw.

Authentic experience

Bed and Breakfast is a relatively recent phenomenon in Switzerland but is also starting to take off.

“Prices vary widely but are not always the priority,” said Michel Beuret, who produces a countrywide guide to private accommodation.

“Tourists are often looking for an authentic experience and contact with local people.”

It is estimated that there are two to three million overnight stays a year in private accommodation in Switzerland. The total number of overnight stays is about 66 million.

In high season, particularly the school summer holidays, all Bed and Breakfast accommodation is booked out and double the capacity is needed, said Beuret.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

More tourists are spending their holidays in alternative accommodation.
This includes farms, bed and breakfast and even sleeping in straw.
Ambiance and cost explain the choice.
A family with four children can spend a week on a farm for SFr350.

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