Updated on November 6, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Switzerland’s tourism to the country is booming more than ever. With more than half the country being covered by the Alps, Lake Constance in the north and Lake Geneva in the south,Skyscanner declares Switzerland as a true nature lover’s paradise. Switzerland is the fourth happiest nation as per the World Happiness Report for 2017. Switzerland’s tourism is thriving now more than ever due to its temperate climate, stunning locales, good food and progressive economy. SwitzerlandTourism includes must-see spots like the Alps and Rhone, delicious cheeses and chocolates and so much more.

Here we are going to describe some of the top trends and statistics about the Swiss tourism industry.

Covid-19 and Tourism Industry

COVID-19 crisis has put many hardships on Swiss tourism in the last two years with real consequences. Hotel and catering was the hardest hit industry after the government imposed travel restrictions and ordered the temporary closure of restaurants and non-essential shops from March to June 2020.

However, traditionally, Switzerland has been a dream destination for tourists from Asia and the Arab states because of what this beautiful country has to offer. As soon as travel is possible again, tourists from these regions are the first to knock on Switzerland’s doors.

Pre- and Post-Pandemic Statistics and Trends

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the first nine months of 2020, the number of nights spent in hotels dropped by 39.4% relative to the same period in 2019, from 31.5 to 19.1 million
  • Domestic guests diminished by 10.9% (from 14.1 to 12.5 million) and to some extent saved the business.
  • However, domestic tourism could not compensate for the loss of 62.5% (from 17.4 to 6.5 million) among foreign visitors.
  • Revenue from international tourism fell by almost 48% to CHF9.4 billion ($10.3 billion), reaching the same level seen in the early 1990s.
  • Swiss cities suffered in particular, with popular destinations Zurich and Geneva recording two-thirds drops in overnight stays during summer.
  • In 2021, the government announced a CHF60 million ($65.6 million) program to help Swiss tourism recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • For rebuilding trust, Roger Federer became the brand ambassador of ‘Destination Switzerland’, and it was a strategically clever move.
  • With effect from 2 May 2022, entry into Switzerland from all countries in the world is again possible as before the pandemic.
  • Protective measures due to the coronavirus no longer apply in Switzerland.
  • Domestic travel in Switzerland is returning to the pre-crisis level faster than in other countries.
  • The business inbound segment will recover to pre-crisis levels only by 2024, and hence the entire market is not expected to return to its pre-crisis level until then (close to the European average).

Contribution of Tourism in Switzerland

  • In 2018, tourism contributed 2.9% to Swiss GDP and employed 181,700 people(full-time equivalents), corresponding to 4.4% of total employment.
  • International travel receipts were CHF 16.6 billion, representing 4.1% of total exports.
  • Travel exports accounted for 13.4% of total service exports in 2018.
  • In 2018, 11.7 million international tourists were recorded, registering 21.4 million overnight stays.
  • This figure represents 55.1% of the national38.8 million overnight stays registered in the hotel sector – a record high.
  • Compared to the previous year, nights in hotel establishments by international tourists increased by 4.5%.
  • The most important foreign source market remains Germany, representing 18.9% of international overnight tourists.
  • Between 2008 and 2017, the number of nights taken by German tourists dropped each year, driven in part by the strong Swiss franc.
  • In 2018, the number of nights in Germany increased (+6.9%).
  • Another important trend is the number of overnight stays taken by tourists from the United States: from 2011 growth has been consistent, rising from 1.5 million to 2.3 million overnight stays in 2018, a 51% increase.
  • Consequently, the United States now represents the second most important source market after Germany.
  • Domestic tourism has also shown growth each year since 2013, with a record high of 17.4 million nights in hotels and similar establishments in 2018.

Tourism Industry Insight

  • Many Swiss who live abroad visit their families and friends back home and spend their holidays with them.
  • Together with holiday and business trips, they form one of the three pillars of the tourism industry.
  • The degree of loyalty is also very high among tourists visiting Switzerland.
  • As far as the tourism prices are concerned, visitors enjoy a certain exclusivity in Switzerland as a countermeasure to mass tourism.
  • Switzerland Tourism (ST) is focusing on strong umbrella marketing and targeted partner campaigns to attract attention, inspire people to travel to Switzerland and lead to bookings.
  • As one of the most sustainabletravel destinations worldwide, Switzerland has made it onto the bucket lists of many internationalguests.
  • A balanced mix between the domesticmarket, short-haul markets and long-haul markets provide a resilient foundation for Swisstourism.
  • With the Recovery Plan 2.0, Switzerlandtourism is promoting internationaltravel, city and businesstourism, and sustainabletourismdevelopment.
  • Digitaltransformation and data-basedmarketing are advanced consistently.
  • The long-term partnership with Roger Federer is aimed at attracting internationalvisitors for a stay in an energisingSwitzerland.
  • The compensation for his work as an ambassador of SwitzerlandTourism(ST) goes to the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports disadvantagedchildren in Switzerland.
  • Roger Federer is advertising the “Tours” of Switzerland together with SwitzerlandTourism, including both highlights, the GrandTour of Switzerland and the Grand TrainTour of Switzerland, in the internationalmarkets in 2022.
  • SwitzerlandTourism(ST) is focusing on acquiring business events together with the SwitzerlandConvention and IncentiveBureau (SCIB).
  • After a long period of working from home and countless digital events, there is a huge demand for meetings to be held live again, for newcontacts to be made at networkingevents and for education and skills to be advanced at conferences.
  • For the organisers, safety, reliability, cleanliness and sustainability have become key deciding factors when choosing a destination and Switzerland can score highly in these areas.
  • 15% of business travellers continued to travel whenever possible even during the crisis.
  • While 5% of businesstravellers are waiting for further developments and 60% are returning as quickly as possible.

Other Tourist-related Trends and Facts

  • Zurich is Switzerland’scentre of economiclife and education.
  • Zurich is abuzz with activity day and night with its countlessevents, diversemuseums, its foodfestival and Switzerland’s most vibrantnightlife.
  • Zurich has for yearsranked among the world’stop cities in terms of quality of life. It is a boutiquecity that offers everything that implies, albeit in a small and exquisiteformat.
  • With the ZürichCard, city explorers can enjoy Zurich in all its diversity and save time and money.
  • During the advent period the light art by the renowned artistWilliWalter, which is unique in Switzerland, lights up the entire pedestrianzone of Baden’s city centre.
  • Thousands of lights in all shapes and sizes, as well as specially made angelfigures, turn the town into a work of art which can be explored on foot.
  • Long-haul, international travel makes tourists happier as Chinese, American, and Canadiantourists reported the highestlevel of happinesstravelling to Switzerland.
  • Tourists who are engaged in highly engaging travelactivities and sports are found the happiest while touristsengaged in nightlifeactivities are found leasthappy.
  • Younger (25-34), educated (graduate and post-graduate), and employed tourists with a disposableincome were found the happiesttravelling to Switzerland.
  • In 2018, Switzerland ranked first for the eighth consecutive year as the mostinnovative country in the world in The Global Innovation Index.
  • VAT in Switzerland stands at 8%, but travellers can ask for Global Blue Tax-Free Forms at any shop (provided their purchase exceeds 300 CDF, including VAT) to reclaim the tax at the airport.
  • Visitors can get great deals on Swiss Travel System tickets.