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Swiss travel less and closer to home

Money and security concerns increased the number of Swiss staying at home between 1998 and 2003

(Keystone)

Swiss people have been spending less on travel and have been staying closer to home, according to a survey published on Monday.

Figures from the Federal Statistics Office show that for the five-year period to 2003, Swiss tourists also spent less while travelling. Business travel was down 44 per cent on 1998.

The majority of Swiss did travel to some extent, the survey confirmed. In 2003, 83 per cent of people domiciled in Switzerland travelled within the country or abroad for business or pleasure.

This rate was unchanged from 1998, however the number of trips per person annually fell from 3.5 to 3 between 1998 and 2003.

According to the office, this trend was mainly due to cost-cutting measures introduced by companies, including cutbacks on foreign travel.

In total, the population went on 102 million trips in 2003 at home and abroad without staying overnight. The number of visits with overnight stays was 21.8 million.

Work-related travel fell by 44 per cent in the period studied and trips of less than three nights dropped by 14 per cent.

However the drop in the number of trips lasting four or more nights was negligible at just one per cent.

Home comforts

The number of trips to nearby destinations also increased.

In 2003, 74 per cent of trips of three nights or less were in Switzerland, compared with 68 per cent in 1998.

For longer-term holiday breaks, the rate of people who chose neighbouring countries climbed from 49 per cent to 55 per cent.

In 2003, Germany was the favourite destination for short-term trips, knocking France off the top spot. Italy remained the most popular choice for longer holiday breaks of four nights or more.

The tendency to holiday closer to home can be attributed to two main factors, the office said. A growing number of the 3,300 households interviewed said they were reluctant to travel far for financial reasons, while the terrorist threat to air travel discouraged others.

Not only did the Swiss restrict the amount of travel they undertook, they also cut back on the amount of money they spent away from home.

Spending on private travel fell from SFr125 ($97) to SFr117 per person per night between 1998 and 2003, a decrease of 6.4 per cent.

The drop in spending is more pronounced for business travel, which fell from SFr451 to SFr363 per night, down 19.5 per cent.

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Key facts

The total number of trips of at least one night reached 21.8 million in 2003.
Swiss residents made 102 million day trips that year.
As in 1998, 83% of Swiss left home for an overnight stay at least once but the average number of trips per person fell from 3.5 to 3 per person per year.
Business trips of several days' duration reduced sharply in the five-year period by 44%.
Since 1998, the amount of money spent on private travel decreased by 6.4% and 19.5% for business travel.

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