How Swiss holiday habits have changed

Travel habits among Switzerland’s population have changed dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a new study has revealed.

How Swiss holiday habits have changed
Most people chose to stay in Switzerland in 2020. Photo by AFP

Tourism and mobility habits were disrupted in 2020 not only by the virus itself, but also due to various travel restrictions across the world, according to a new study by motoring organisation Touring Club Suisse (TCS). 

One of the findings is that people in Switzerland have favoured the car for getting around, to the detriment of public transport. The number of respondents who used public transport during the pandemic, dropped from 29 percent in 2019 to 18 percent in 2020.

There was also a shift in terms of holidays, TCS found.

About a third of those surveyed opted to stay at home during holidays, compared to just 16 percent in 2019. Of those who did leave their homes, 44 percent chose to stay in Switzerland, while that number was 25 percent in 2019. 

The perception is “the closer to home, the better”, TCS said, adding that cantons of Ticino, Valais and Graubünden have been the most popular destinations during the pandemic.

Of those who travelled abroad, 23 percent went to neighbouring countries — 12 percent less than a year earlier.

Only 7 percent ventured farther in Europe, compared to 26 percent in 2019. And only 0.6 percent left Europe, compared to 12 percent in 2019.

While on holiday, 46 percent of Swiss travellers used the car, against 36 percent in 2019.

Air travel has experienced a dramatic drop, as only 7 percent of Switzerland’s travellers opted for this mode of transport in 2020, compared to 32 percent a year before. 

“While in the past, concerns about the safety of overseas travel were mainly related to terrorism, now the problems of disease and pathogens are more important”, TCS said.

International travel has been problematic not only because of the epidemiological situation, but also due to restrictions currently in place in various countries, including, in many cases, the obligation to present a recent negative Covid test before entering a foreign country. 

And from February 8th, Switzerland has implemented new restrictions for people entering the country, including residents returning from abroad. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland's new travel and quarantine rules?

They include online registration and a negative Covid test prior to travel. 

Also, people arriving from countries at risk must self-quarantine for 10 days, though this period could be shortened if negative test result is presented to cantonal authorities on the seventh day

READ MORE: Quarantine: Switzerland updates coronavirus 'high risk' list



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Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.”