Switzerland’s tourism sector is facing “crucial days”, according to Jürg Schmid, director of Swiss Tourism. Just before the winter high season it is already feeling the effects of the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) decision to scrap a minimum exchange rate with the euro.
“The telephones stopped ringing immediately and online reservations in particular are suddenly no longer being made,” he said in an interview with Le Matin Dimanche.
He added that the central bank’s decision on Thursday, so close to the high season, had triggered uncertainty among foreign customers and that Swiss tourism was still “in shock”.
Ditching the franc cap, which had been in place since September 2011, caused the franc to surge against the euro and dollar, sending shockwaves through the global financial system. For exporters and the tourism industry in Switzerland, the move has led to a near 18% rise in the franc against the euro.
Schmid believed that should parity between the franc and the euro establish itself (previously the floor had been held at CHF1.20 per euro), a significant drop in overnight stays could be expected.
The most price-sensitive guests were Germans and Dutch, he said. On the other hand the currency turbulence would have less of an effect on tourists from China and southeast Asia, who also visit other European countries.
The most important customers now, in Schmid’s eyes, are Swiss. “We have to convince them to stay in Switzerland.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies