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Swiss Alps or Tyrol? Austria cashes in on strong Swiss franc

Skiers are turning their backs on expensive Switzerland and heading for the Austrian Alps instead. (SRF/swissinfo.ch) 

The number of European customers in Swiss alpine resorts has continued to decline in recent years, because it is more expensive to ski here than in neighbouring France, Germany and Austria.

But when the Swiss National Bank abandoned its currency cap with the euro on January 15, this made the value of the franc rise considerably, putting even more visitors off as a result. 

Austria, which uses the euro, has been taking up the slack and business is booming in the Tyrol and Vorarlberg, with many Swiss in particular looking for bargains. For them, holidays there have become 15% cheaper because of the exchange rate. 

Meanwhile, Grächen in the Swiss canton of Valais is trying to claw back customers by offering a fixed exchange rate of 1.35 francs to the euro throughout the winter season.

The rate was introduced in September 2011, and although it means less profits for lift operators, restaurant owners and hoteliers, it has guaranteed a steady flow of customers from Germany and Holland in particular.