Swiss tourism cautiously upbeat

Ski resorts are hoping that foreign guests will make their way back this season Keystone

The decline in overnight night tourist stays is set to continue into 2013, but the trend is likely to start reversing later in the year, and the tourism industry should be back in profit in 2014, says a report published on Tuesday.

This content was published on October 30, 2012 - 16:51 and agencies

The BAK Basel economic research institute forecasts a drop of 0.9 per cent in hotel overnights in the upcoming winter season, which runs from November to April. Stays by foreign tourists are likely to decline by 1.8 per cent, but this will be partly compensated by an increase in the number of Swiss tourists.

Preliminary figures for the 2012 summer season show a drop of about 3.1 per cent. In the previous winter season the decline had been 3.8 per cent. The strong franc kept away many guests from Switzerland’s traditional European markets, while some Swiss clients were put off by the weather, BAK said. On the other hand more distant markets developed positively.

Richard Kämpf, responsible for tourism at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), which commissioned the BAK report, told journalists that there was a “glimmer of light on the horizon”.

He based his optimism on an expected recovery in the eurozone and an easing of the currency situation. He also predicted that the number of Asian visitors would continue to grow.

He said the current year had been particularly bad in the alpine region, where the number of overnights had declined to a point close to the slump of 1996 and 1997.

Jürg Schmid, head of the Swiss tourism organisation, said new ways must be found to offer something to visitors who are not interested in winter sport.

A graph on the BAK Basel report shows that hotel overnights hit a trough in 1996, and after recovering steadily until 2001, dropped even further in 2003, but then rose again steadily until 2008. They have declined since 2010. The graph predicts that by 2015 the number of overnights by domestic and foreign tourists taken together will be just below the 2010 level.

In the winter season overnights peaked in 2008-09 and dropped sharply the following year. The graph shows that the number of domestic winter tourists has been rising slightly since then, while the number of foreign visitors has continued to decline.

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