Swiss hotel industry enjoyed record year in 2019

Tourists on the Titlis mountain in central Switzerland on June 26, 2019. (KEYSTONE/Alexandra Wey) Keystone / Alexandra Wey

The Swiss hotel industry registered 39.6 million overnight stays across the country last year – a new record. However, tourism officials expect the Covid-19 outbreak to have an impact in 2020. 

This content was published on February 27, 2020 - 15:17

The total number of overnight stays rose by 1.9% (+755,000) compared to 2018, confirming a recent upward trend, the Federal Statistical Office reported on ThursdayExternal link

Some 21.6 million overnight stays were booked by foreign visitors (+1.1%/+246 000), while demand was also strong among Swiss holidaymakers (+509,000/+2.9%). 

There was a large rise in the number of Americans (+234 000 overnight stays / +7.7%), and sizeable increases from China (excluding Hong Kong/+2.4%), Hong Kong (+22.9%), Taiwan (+23.7%) and Japan (+6,900 / +1.8%). 

Meanwhile, the number of overnight stays by visitors from Gulf states fell by 82,000 (–8.7%) while the figure for Europe was down slightly, with Italy, Spain, Britain and France recording the biggest declines. 

Most Swiss regions benefited, with Zurich, Valais, Graubünden and Bern enjoying sizeable increases.

Outlook for 2020 

Tourism officials are anxiously watching the unfolding coronavirus outbreak and its potential impact. Chinese holidaymakers, especially group holiday tours, represent the third biggest source of overnight stays in Switzerland after Germans and the Americans. In five years, the number of overnight stays by Chinese visitors has increased by 48.8% to 1.8 million in 2019. 

However, Martin Nydegger, the director of Switzerland Tourism, expects a 50% drop in Chinese visitors to Switzerland in the first quarter of the year, compared to 2019, with the Bernese Oberland, central Switzerland and Zurich likely to be the most affected regions. 

In January, Switzerland Tourism initially predicted a 30-50% reduction in the number of Chinese visitors to Switzerland. Tourism officials stressed that most visitors (70%) come during the summer months. 

Chinese visitors are among the biggest spenders when holidaying in Switzerland: paying out on average CHF380 per person per day. In 2019 income from Chinese visitors was estimated to be CHF701.4 million.

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