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Travel bug loses its grip on Swiss

The over-65s are enjoying the benefits of extra time and money to take more holidays. imagepoint

The Swiss are taking fewer holidays, with only two-thirds of the population going away for four nights or more last year.

Many people now say they don’t have enough time or money to take a trip although retired people are bucking the trend, according to a poll.

St Gallen University’s Institute for public services and tourism carried out the survey, polling 1,500 households. The results, published in Wednesday’s edition of Zurich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, show that travel by the Swiss has reached its lowest level since 1972, the first time the poll was done.

The number of people going away at least once a year and for a minimum of four nights fell from 80 per cent in 1992 to 68 per cent in 2004. The number of trips per person was 1.95 last year.

A quarter of those who stayed at home blamed professional obligations and a lack of time for not travelling, while 17 per cent said it was the cost that held them back.

Families are the least likely to go away for a holiday, along with middle-aged managers working independently or for small and medium-sized companies. Professional and economic pressure to stay put is particularly strong for this group, according to the survey’s authors.

On the other hand, people who have retired usually have the time and money to travel, taking off three times a year on average.

Shorter trips

The amount of time people give over to travel is also changing. Very short trips and lengthy stays, such as sabbaticals, are now becoming more frequent.

At the same time, the traditional one or two-week summer break is losing its appeal.

For the Swiss the most important thing is to get away from home. First and foremost, they want to relax, but they also want to be active.

Sports and other physical activities are eagerly sought out, while cultural and so-called “exotic” destinations have become less attractive.

Nearly half the Swiss who take a holiday stay within Switzerland, while another 25 per cent don’t travel beyond the neighbouring countries.

Because of this, cars remain the favoured means of transport for 60 per cent of holidaymakers. Air travel accounts for 18 per cent of all journeys.

The arrival of low-cost airlines has apparently not increased demand for air travel, but it has boosted the number of short city trips.

swissinfo with agencies

The number of Swiss spending at least four nights away from home for a holiday has dropped from 80 per cent in 1992 to 68 per cent last year.
The over-65s travel on average three times a year.

According to the Federal Statistics Office, foreign tourists have begun to return to Switzerland.

Between January and February, the number of overnight stays by foreigners rose by 5.6 per cent, whereas those by Swiss tourists fell by 1.3 per cent.

For the first time, tourists from eastern Europe have begun to make the trip to Switzerland.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR