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Pricey destination Strong franc hits Swiss tourism hard in March

Empty beds reinforce the tourism industry's fears over strong franc impact

(Keystone)

The number of overnight stays in Swiss hotels for the month of March has dropped by 7.4% compared to the year before. The slump is largely due to fewer European tourists opting to spend their holidays in the country.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the decrease in overnight stays by European tourists was almost twice the average decline, at an alarming 14.5%. Germans were responsible for the biggest chunk of no shows in terms of volume, with 78,000 fewer overnight stays. 

This is the second month of tourism statistics since the Swiss National Bank (SNB) dropped the CHF1.20 ($1.32) peg to the euro that sent the value of the Swiss franc soaring against the euro. Overnight, Swiss holiday destinations became 15% dearer for guests from European countries. Since then, those in the tourism industry have been bracing themselves for the impact on their bottom lines.

However, February saw an overall 6% increase in overnight stays. But many believe that the bookings for the month had already been made before the SNB’s decision and that the real consequences will be felt much later.

There are other signs the strong franc is affecting Switzerland’s ability to be a competitive tourist destination. The alpine nation only managed sixth place in the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report that was released on Wednesday. It occupied the top spot in the previous edition published in 2013.

Switzerland was also ranked last (141st place) in terms of price competitiveness in the 2015 report, a drop of two places compared to the previous edition.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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