Tax issues and an isolationist tendency in Europe appear to have tarnished Switzerland’s image, according to a study by the foreign ministry.
The survey found that the perception of Switzerland had suffered notably in neighbouring Germany and France as well as in Spain.
As many as 17% of the people surveyed in Germany and 12% of those surveyed in France and Spain said that Switzerland had become less appealing over the past five years.
Many respondents blamed the Swiss fiscal system favouring tax evasion and the restrictive immigration policy for the decline.
“The problem is that there were a number prominent and broadly reported cases of tax evasion in Switzerland in the recent past,” Nicolas Bideau, head of the foreign ministry’s image agency is quoted as saying in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.
He said the scandals were much more present in the media than the latest policy changes. Bideau added it would take some time to improve the image.
However, Switzerland’s reputation has improved in Poland and in Britain over the past five years. Respondents said they associated Switzerland primarily with chocolate, mountains, banks and watches.
The survey, commissioned by Presence Switzerland, a unit of the foreign ministry, was carried out among 4,800 people in five European countries over the past summer.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch