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Tourism sector will take decades to recover from pandemic

Nydegger projected there will be 10% fewer domestic tourists this year than last year, as more Swiss travel abroad thanks to a loosening of border restrictions. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

The president of the national marketing body Switzerland Tourism says the year 2021 is on course to be even worse than 2020, with 5% fewer hotel stays expected.

This content was published on July 25, 2021 - 11:59
swissinfo.ch/gw

"This is not good news, because 2020 was the worst year in history" for the sector, Martin Nydegger told the newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

Revenue from international tourism fell by nearly 50% in 2020, official figures show.

“Life for Swiss tourism will be difficult for years to come,” Nydegger said, pointing out that while leisure tourism is picking up again, business travel is not likely to return to pre-pandemic levels.

He projected there will be 10% fewer domestic tourists this year than last year, as more Swiss travel abroad thanks to a loosening of border restrictions.

But this may be compensated for by more guests from abroad visiting Switzerland. The Alpine country is recording roughly a 15% increase in visitors from neighbouring countries this summer, including Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Belgium. Numbers are also picking up from the Gulf States and North America.

But tourists from one key region appear more reluctant.

"In the next two or three years we won't see nearly as many Asian [tourists] with us as we did before the coronavirus," said Nydegger.

One ongoing challenge for the sector is the lack of coordination around travel restrictions within Europe, which Nydegger described as “confusing” for would-be tourists.

But he also acknowledged the need for more tourism workers to get vaccinated before the industry can fully recover. Some hotels are also exploring the possibility of welcoming only vaccinated guests, he said.

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