Last year 38.4 million overnight stays were registered in Swiss hotels – the lowest number since 2005. But, while eurozone guests stayed away due to high costs, visitors from Arab and Asian countries continue to increase.
Overnight stays across Switzerland fell 4.9 per cent overall between 2008 and 2011 and fell another two per cent in 2012, according to the Federal Statistics Office.
“People still love Switzerland, but their budgets are strained,” head of Switzerland Tourism Jürg Schmid told the press at an event announcing the figures. Schmid said although most regular guests to the country didn’t break their habits in 2012, they tended to cut down the length of their stays due to the Swiss franc’s high value.
The high franc especially drove away tourists from the Netherlands and Germany – an 11 per cent decline brought fewer German visitors to Switzerland than any time since the 1960s, while 14 per cent fewer Dutch made the trip to the Swiss Alps.
Alpine regions suffered the most from lower tourist numbers, with Graubünden seeing a 5.6 per cent decline in overnight stays and the Bernese Oberland welcoming 4.2 per cent fewer hotel guests. However, the Zurich and Fribourg regions both saw increases of 1.8 and 6.1 per cent, respectively.
And, the end of 2012 was a bright spot, with overnight stays creeping upward by 5.3 per cent in December thanks to favorable snow conditions and ideal dates for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. December was the third month in a row with increased hotel stays.
Switzerland also continued to look attractive to tourists from China and the Gulf States, with 25 and 24 per cent more visitors over 2011, respectively. Chinese visitors mostly came in large groups which were able to negotiate lower-priced package deals, according to Switzerland Tourism.
swissinfo.ch and agencies