copy the linklink copied!Switzerland

copy the linklink copied!Tourism in the economy

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 national 38.8 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. However, in 2018, the number of nights from Germany has 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 2018.

copy the linklink copied!Tourism governance and funding

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is responsible for the development and implementation of Switzerland’s tourism policy. SECO enforces the Federal Act on the Promotion of Innovation, Co-operation and Knowledge Building in Tourism (Innotour) and supervises two associations tasked with implementing tourism measures: Switzerland Tourism carries out marketing activities relating to Swiss tourism and the Swiss Society for Hotel Credit supports investment in the accommodation sector.

Numerous political bodies at both national and regional levels influence the delivery of tourism policy, including various industry organisations. Federal tourism policy and its levers are subsidiary to the work of the cantons, local authorities and tourism-related industries. Maintaining dialogue within the Federal Administration, between the cantons and with tourist actors and associations is fundamental to the development of the industry. In that light, Tourism Forum Switzerland (TFS) was established to provide a platform for dialogue and co-ordination and allow co-operation across the sector. Broadly diversified, often temporary, working groups consisting of representatives of the private sector, cantons, communes and the Federal Administration, meet regularly to discuss current challenges and potential improvements. At the Forum’s main event in November, the results of the working groups are gathered and presented, and the priorities for the following year are discussed.

In 2019, CHF 60.5 million were available for national tourism policies. Of this, CHF 52.8 million went to Switzerland Tourism. A further CHF 7.5 million was available for supporting Innotour. For the period 2020–23, the Parliament has allocated about CHF 57.5 million annually for Switzerland Tourism and CHF 7.5 million for Innotour. The Swiss Society for Hotel Credit is supported by the Confederation with an existing interest-free long-term loan of some CHF 230 million.

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Switzerland: Organisational chart of tourism bodies
Switzerland: Organisational chart of tourism bodies

Source: OECD, adapted from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, 2020.

copy the linklink copied!Tourism policies and programmes

Swiss tourism is facing major challenges including rising costs, rapidly changing market trends, climate change, difficulties in recruitment and rising standards of digitalisation. To address these challenges, the Confederation published a new tourism strategy in 2017, with a vision for Switzerland to be an attractive and productive tourist destination with an internationally competitive tourism sector. For the years 2020 – 2023, the policy priority in Switzerland is the implementation of this tourism strategy. With a core focus on digital transformation, the strategy has four principal objectives:

  • Improving the framework conditions for tourism. Prioritisation is geared towards improving the way in which the government’s tourism policy is co-ordinated to maximise synergies. A second focus lies in providing a tourism-friendly regulatory environment. To do so, regulations will be streamlined where possible and processes and procedures at federal level simplified.

  • Promoting entrepreneurship with a focus on increasing productivity, boosting workforce skills and competencies, supporting structural change and strengthening the tourism labour market.

  • Exploiting the opportunities presented by the digital economy. A comprehensive study has analysed the challenges, opportunities and implications of digitalisation giving a robust basis for action. In 2019, Switzerland Tourism’s new online platform MySwitzerland.com was launched. With its launch, an important goal set out in the tourism strategy has been achieved.

  • Enhancing the attractiveness of the tourism offer and boosting market presence. The focus is on the development of large-scale sports and major MICE related events, such as world expos, as well as an assessment of the types of investment policies that can assist tourism.

Entrepreneurial thinking and action are decisive factors for successful tourism which is why promoting entrepreneurship is one of the main goals of the strategy. Collaboration with Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency, has resulted in an analysis of how typical tourism businesses are formed and how they can best be supported. This identified the main challenges that companies in the tourism sector typically face in their start-up phase. Key messages from the analysis were that business creation stimulates competition and supports structural change, market failure justifies the State’s support for entrepreneurship, and, in Switzerland, a comprehensive support system is already provided. Various recommendations were made for improvement: for example, to improve the clarity of and the accessibility to support instruments; to design support for business creation using a network approach; to anchor entrepreneurship into apprenticeships and other educational opportunities, and to improve statistical data related to business creation. On the basis of these recommendations, SECO developed various measures. One is strengthened co-operation between SECO and Innosuisse, to ensure that Innosuisse's support is known and used by more of the private sector. Another step to boost business creation is to use Tourism Forum Switzerland as a platform for the promotion of start-up activities.

A Tourism Policy Advisory Group was established in 2017 to aid the development and implementation of the tourism strategy. The group, led by SECO, meets twice a year and serves as a sounding board. It has a balanced membership of entrepreneurs, tourism organisations, policy-makers and academics. The Group is informed about the state of current work, consulted regarding key activities and gives concrete advice as regards the development of future policy. The dialogue ensures that emerging trends and issues are fully understood and necessary policy action is taken.

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Analysing the impact of land-use regulations for tourism development in Switzerland

The increasing number and complexity of regulations covering numerous policy areas leads to administrative hurdles for tourism businesses. In order to counteract these hurdles and ensure that tourism can be successfully developed, one of the goals of the tourism strategy is to improve the framework conditions. Striving towards a tourism-friendly regulatory climate is therefore a key focus. Collaboration with the Tourism Policy Advisory Group, the SECO-led group that provides advice for the development of future policy, has revealed that regulations relating to land use planning play a particularly central role. In light of this, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs commissioned a study to identify the most important issues for tourism projects in relation to the spatial planning regulations. This work aims to help both reduce the costs of regulation and the administrative burden currently faced by many tourism entrepreneurs and companies.

The study showed that, from the point of view of the tourism economy, there are four very important critical success factors namely: planning security, a short planning duration, business freedom and cost-effective processes. Collaboration with the relevant actors played a central role in reaching these conclusions: relevant authorities, cantonal representatives, experts and interested associations were fundamental to the success of the work. The aim now is to develop concrete policy measures that implement the findings and reduce the administrative burden on tourism businesses. These could include:

  • Reducing the complexity of planning procedures to make it easier to take forward certain types of projects, such as the creation / refurbishment of mountain cable cars.

  • Altering the weighting / importance of certain issues, to make the process more transparent and efficient and where appropriate giving greater weight to economic concerns (compared to, for example, concerns relating to the environment).

copy the linklink copied!Statistical Profile

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Switzerland: Domestic, inbound and outbound tourism

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

TOURISM FLOWS, THOUSAND

Domestic tourism1

Total domestic trips

76 000

78 050

76 374

76 309

80 020

Overnight visitors (tourists)

7 732

7 830

7 465

8 231

8 201

Same-day visitors (excursionists)

68 268

70 220

68 909

68 078

71 819

Nights in all types of accommodation

..

..

26 381

27 768

28 573

Hotels and similar establishments

16 026

16 052

16 245

16 920

17 413

Other collective establishments

..

..

10 136

10 848

11 160

Private accommodation

..

..

..

..

..

Inbound tourism

Total international arrivals

..

..

..

..

..

Overnight visitors (tourists)

9 158

9 305

10 402 |

11 133

11 715

Same-day visitors (excursionists)

..

..

..

..

..

Top markets

Germany

1 812

1 616

2 018 |

2 072

2 216

China

891

1 210

982 |

1 062

1 135

United States

752

803

899 |

1 009

1 118

France

699

655

773 |

788

826

United Kingdom

712

710

800 |

808

820

Nights in all types of accommodation

..

..

24 016

25 515

26 784

Hotels and similar establishments

19 907

19 576

19 288

20 473

21 394

Other collective establishments

..

..

4 728

5 042

5 390

Private accommodation

..

..

..

..

..

Outbound tourism

Total international departures

..

..

..

24 594

26 397

Overnight visitors (tourists)

13 427

14 925

14 941

16 650

16 735

Same-day visitors (excursionists)

..

..

..

7 944

9 662

Top destinations

Germany

2 639

2 939

2 980

2 766

3 135

Italy

2 557

2 808

2 730

2 868

2 964

France

2 003

2 244

1 913

3 213

2 441

Austria

1 019

1 091

960

1 062

1 078

TOURISM RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURE, MILLION CHF

Inbound tourism

Total international receipts

16 308

15 753

15 756

16 228

16 596

International travel receipts

16 308

15 753

15 756

16 228

16 596

International passenger transport receipts

..

..

..

..

..

Outbound tourism

Total international expenditure

15 444

15 675

16 225

17 570

17 949

International travel expenditure

15 444

15 675

16 225

17 570

17 949

International passenger transport expenditure

..

..

..

..

..

.. Not available; | Break in series

1. Trips from demand side surveys; Nights from supply side surveys.

Source: OECD Tourism Statistics (Database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888934077996

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Switzerland: Enterprises and employment in tourism

Number of establishments

Number of persons employed

2018

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Total

..

171 784

173 534

175 436

177 034

181 699 p

Tourism industries

..

136 950

138 606

140 315

141 697

146 019 p

Accommodation services for visitors

39 057

36 211

34 886

35 233

35 419

35 780 p

Hotels and similar establishments

4 765

32 797

31 521

31 929

32 136

32 464 p

Food and beverage serving industry

..

42 398

45 800

46 897

46 356

48 302 p

Passenger transport

..

26 519

26 643

27 225

27 925

28 976 p

Air passenger transport

..

7 891

8 015

8 727

8 619

9 443 p

Railways passenger transport

..

12 914

12 748

12 550

13 196

13 294 p

Road passenger transport

..

4 814

4 936

5 040

5 161

5 199 p

Water passenger transport

..

899

944

908

950

1 041 p

Passenger transport supporting services

..

5 143

5 170

5 373

5 420

5 548 p

Transport equipment rental

..

514

535

531

543

560 p

Travel agencies and other reservation services industry

..

14 211

13 726

13 160

13 648

14 087 p

Cultural industry

..

3 675

3 683

3 670

3 896

4 038 p

Sports and recreation industry

..

6 120

6 066

6 181

6 471

6 702 p

Retail trade of country-specific tourism characteristic goods

..

..

..

..

..

..

Other country-specific tourism industries

..

2 160

2 097

2 045

2 019

2 025 p

Other industries

..

34 835

34 928

35 121

35 337

35 681 p

.. Not available; p Provisional data

Source: OECD Tourism Statistics (Database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888934078015

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Switzerland: Internal tourism consumption
Million CHF

2014

Domestic tourism expenditure

Inbound tourism expenditure

Internal tourism consumption

Total

..

..

..

Consumption products

13 983

16 692

33 582

Tourism characteristic products

11 601

13 734

27 930

Accommodation services for visitors

2 846

2 590

7 411

Food and beverage serving services

2 715

2 871

5 587

Passenger transport services

4 519

5 063

9 873

Air passenger transport services

3 214

2 990

6 203

Railways passenger transport services

870

1 219

2 379

Road passenger transport services

405

772

1 177

Water passenger transport services

30

83

114

Passenger transport supporting services

331

434

765

Transport equipment rental services

110

143

253

Travel agencies and other reservation services industry

135

1 079

1 375

Cultural services

64

191

422

Sports and recreation services

752

844

1 596

Country-specific tourism characteristic goods

..

..

..

Country-specific tourism characteristic services

130

518

647

Other consumption products

5 902

9 473

15 687

Tourism connected products

2 382

2 959

5 652

Non-tourism related consumption products

3 521

6 514

10 035

Non-consumption products

..

..

..

.. Not available

Source: OECD Tourism Statistics (Database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888934078034

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