Swiss hotel association says Covid-19 loans should be waived

The hotel association reported that the average occupancy rate of Swiss hotels stood at 15% in May across the country. The rate is expected to rise to 23% for June-August in cities and 43% in popular tourist regions. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The authorities should write off Covid-19 loans in hardship cases and short-time work arrangements should be extended to help the ailing Swiss hotel industry, says the country’s largest hotel association.

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Hotellerie Schweiz said on Monday that additional measures were needed to help the hotel sector, which has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It reported that the average occupancy rate of Swiss hotels stood at 15% in May across the country. The rate is expected to rise to 23% for June-August in cities and 43% in popular tourist regions. However, domestic demand will not make up for the lack of foreign guests, the association said.

Further measures and a clear roadmap were needed to ensure liquidity and investment opportunities for hotels and to help initiate a recovery, it wrote.

The association, which represents 3,000 members, said that in cases of severe hardship Covid loans should be waived. It added that short-time working arrangements for the hotel industry should be extended from 12 to 18 months.

Short-time working

Large numbers of Swiss companies affected by the pandemic have seen an alarming drop in revenue and have resorted to short-time working to avoid redundancies. Around two-thirds of Swiss hotels applied for Covid loans, and 96% have resorted to short-time work.

Thanks to short-time work, Covid loans and easing measures, the situation has eased for some establishments, the association said. Two months ago, one in ten hotels said there was a 60% chance of them going bankrupt; in June this figure was around 3% of hotels.

Tourism is one of Switzerland’s biggest industries, generating around 3% of gross domestic product (GDP). It employs some 170,000 people. The hotel industry alone generates CHF8.1 billion ($8.6 billion) in turnover each year and employs 63,000 people in Switzerland.

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