Swiss tourism industry demands new Covid-19 quarantine regime

With only three months to go before the start of the winter season, the de facto holiday ban for guests from certain high risk countries is causing huge concern for the Swiss tourism industry. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Foreign visitors from Covid-19 high risk countries should be able to travel to Switzerland with negative corona tests and not have to go into quarantine, say tourism officials.

This content was published on September 13, 2020 - 16:03
NZZ am Sonntag/sb

Under Swiss regulations, anyone entering Switzerland from one of the high risk coronavirus countriesExternal link on a list regularly updated by the Federal Office of Public Health must go into quarantine for ten days to help curb the spread of Covid-19, or risk a fine.

With only three months to go before the start of the winter season, the de facto holiday ban for guests from countries like France is causing huge concern for the tourism industry.

“If French guests are absent in the autumn and winter season, we will be hit hard,” Martin Nydegger, director of Switzerland Tourism, told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper on September 13.

The Valais region, with popular ski resorts such as Verbier, Zermatt and Crans-Montana, are particularly nervous.

“There is a lot at stake for us,” said Christophe Darbellay, head of the Valais Department of Economic Affairs.

Winter tourism brings in around CHF2 billion ($2.2 billion) a year. Half of the winter tourists come from abroad, mostly from Europe, according to NZZ .

Tourism officials agree that an enforced testing strategy and a shorter quarantine period are needed.

“The ten-day quarantine period is far too long,” said Darbellay. “We need to test more, and faster, and to shorten the quarantine period.”

The twenty largest tourism associations from the hotel, catering, travel and aviation industries are now calling for a new quarantine regime.

“The quarantine period must be reduced wherever possible,” said Nydegger. “We demand that business and leisure travellers from risky areas with a negative corona test that is not older than 48 hours should be able to enter Switzerland.”

Foreign health authorities must also agree that return travellers with a negative corona test from Switzerland can re-enter their home country.

The coalition of Swiss tourism organisations also want Covid-19 test centres to be set up at airports and at the main entry points into Switzerland.

NZZ am Sonntag said the interior ministry was examining whether the quarantine period should be shortened.

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