The Swiss are booking more holidays abroad especially as a result of the buoyant economy, with travel agents experiencing soaring sales and a rosy outlook for 2007.
According to a survey published on Tuesday, bookings in the sector grew by ten per cent in 2005 to SFr12.5 billion ($10 billion), despite fierce competition from the internet and concern about natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
The healthy situation in the Swiss travel market is expected to continue, with sizeable growth expected this year and into 2007, provided there are no external shocks, said the authors of the joint report conducted by Credit Suisse and the Swiss Federation of Travel Agencies.
Alongside robust sales growth, profitability was also up in 2005 compared with the previous year, it added.
The improved economic environment in Switzerland was a key factor behind this result, while terrorist attacks, wars and natural disasters only had a limited impact on the number of bookings.
These strong results mirror global travel statistics. The World Tourism Organization reported a record 800 million arrivals worldwide last year.
Competition within the travel sector remains extremely tough, however, with growing numbers of people choosing to book their holidays via the internet.
As a result, the survey found, travel agencies have had to modify their range of products and services to match changing demand. It is therefore crucial to identify future growth segments and trends in the travel market, it commented.
However, the report said low salaries were making it more difficult to attract well-trained staff, and many employees migrate to alternative sectors.
Global uncertainties still mean that holiday planning has become extremely unpredictable and travel agents have to be flexible enough to react to crises, the survey noted.
In the medium-term, most of the travel agencies surveyed expect to see an above-average rise in the number of people booking individual or family holidays, especially spa, adventure and luxury trips and cruises.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss travel habits in 2005:
26% book at least one vacation a year.
27% book two holidays a year.
37% book more than three holidays annually.
Only 10% did not book a holiday last year – down from 17% in 2002.
Most book holidays at travel agents (34%), but the percentage is falling due to the influence of the internet (17%).
The choice of a holiday is increasingly determined by the internet (34%) rather than by brochures (42%) or friends' recommendations (36%).