Swiss tourism rebounding despite Omicron threat

This photograph taken on December 23, 2021 shows a statue representing the 14th century Swiss folk hero Wilhelm Tell holding his crossbow in silhouette at sunset in Lausanne.
This photograph taken on December 23, 2021 shows a statue representing the 14th century Swiss folk hero Wilhelm Tell holding his crossbow in silhouette at sunset in Lausanne. Tourism is currently on the rebound in the Alpine nation. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
The Swiss tourism sector had a more positive start to the key winter season than had been expected, despite the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the Switzerland Tourism agency said Tuesday.

“In comparison with the previous winter holiday season, overnight stays should be up by 10 to 15 percent, with the return of foreign tourists,” the agency said, citing first estimates.

It said the number of overnight stays were at 90 percent of the levels reached in 2019, so “a certain optimism is therefore perceptible”.

Reservations, and cancellations alike, were notably made at short notice, following the ebb and flow of the Covid-19 pandemic.

EXPLAINED: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

However, hoteliers, particularly in the mountains, witnessed a return of European tourists, especially from Germany, France and England, while domestic visitors have remained loyal.

Omicron had Swiss ski resorts rattled in early December when the government imposed 10-day quarantine restrictions on arrivals from countries with the variant of concern.

That included Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands — the three major sources of ski tourists.

Some hotels and ski schools saw their bookings with British customers plunge by 50 percent in 48 hours. But Bern reversed its decision once it was clear that Omicron was already spreading within Switzerland.

Most cases are now due to Omicron. Foreign tourists must now provide proof of a negative Covid test on entry and fill in a passenger locator form.


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