Apr 28, 04 | 10:46 pm
Switzerland’s hoteliers were left with more empty beds last year, reporting almost a million fewer overnight stays.
The Federal Statistics Office said fewer tourists from abroad were to blame for the drop - the third consecutive decline since 2000.
Officials announced on Friday that there were 64 million overnight stays in Swiss hotels between November 2002 and October last year, representing a decline of 1.4 per cent.
According to Silvia De Vito, spokeswoman for Switzerland Tourism, the fall was largely due to the uncertain geopolitical situation.
“Sars, the war in Iraq and terrorism have been a big factor for the industry over the past year,” she told swissinfo.
About ten to 15 per cent fewer guests came from the United States, Japan and the Gulf states.
A big concern for the tourism industry is the decline in the number of German visitors, who represent Switzerland’s most important market. Their numbers dropped by 4.9 per cent.
De Vito said the weak German economy and high prices in Switzerland were to blame for declining overnight stays.
Germans accounted for more than half of the 1.05 million lost overnight stays in 2003.
“The euro was also an important factor because money does not need to be changed. When travelling to other European countries on vacation, prices can be more easily compared,” added de Vito.
Youth hostels and holiday homes suffered least amid the general downturn, seeing only a 0.1 per cent drop in overnight stays.
Camp sites, on the other hand, bucked the trend reporting an increase in tourists.
Although most regions were affected by the downturn, cantons Bern and Valais recorded a slight increase in numbers.
But de Vito is optimistic that the industry will bounce back in 2004.
“We expect a clear improvement this year and our prognosis is supported by the Swiss authorities,” she said.
In 2002 the number of overnight stays contracted by 3.8 per cent.
swissinfo, Karin Kamp