US tourists flocking to Switzerland amid economic boom  

Admiring the view above Lake Lucerne, central Switzerland. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

American visitors to Switzerland have increased by over 40% in five years and represent a major growth motor for the tourism industry, annual statistics show.

This content was published on August 5, 2019 - 12:04

Chinese and Indian tourists are often seen as the future of Swiss tourism, the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche newspapers reported at the weekend. However, they say, “North America is the real growth engine when it comes to overseas visitors”.

Statistics from the Swiss Tourism organisation show that some 2.3 million US visitors booked overnight stays in hotels in the country in 2018, putting Americans second only behind Germans as the keenest tourists. Chinese, Indian, and French were next most frequent.

This represents a jump of 10% in US overnight stays from 2017 and of 42% from 2013. Statistics released Monday by the Federal Statistical Office also show that the trend has continued into 2019, with US overnight hotel stays increasing by 10.4% in the first half of this year.

The numbers refer only to stays in hotels – not in other forms of accommodation like holiday home rentals or Airbnb.

Economic boom

The main reasons driving the US interest in Switzerland are the current strength of the US economy as well as more available flights between the two countries, the SonntagsZeitung reports. Americans are also increasingly keen on Rhine boat cruises, it adds.

“Economic growth [in the US] has especially benefited wealthy people – our target market,” a spokeswoman from Swiss Tourism told the newspaper.

US tourists tend to head to the hubs of Zurich, Lucerne, and Geneva, while Zermatt and the iconic Matterhorn has also recorded a surge in visitors.

On average, US visitors spend an average of CHF280 ($287) per day, above the average tourist spend of CHF160. Travellers from the Gulf countries are most prodigal at CHF420 each day.

Overall, the statistics show a gradual upward swing in hotel stays over the past years, a trend that has continued into 2019, with overnight numbers of foreign tourists increasing by 1.8% in the period January to June compared with the 2018.

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