Cancellations hit tourist industry following rise of Swiss franc

Waving goodbye? Tourism chiefs are worried that foreign tourists will stop coming to Switzerland

Tourism bosses have warned that the Swiss tourism industry is facing a “serious” situation, already feeling the effects of Swiss National Bank’s decision to scrap a minimum exchange rate with the euro.

This content was published on January 23, 2015 and agencies

“We have already seen lower bookings and more cancellations,” the Swiss Tourism Federation, an umbrella organisation representing the industry, said in a statement on Friday.External link

“The tourism industry cannot take advantage of cheaper imports, nor can it move working processes abroad, like other industries can. Therefore it must be stressed once again that tourism is being affected by exchange rate movements more than any other industry,” it continued.

If the franc’s value rises by 1%, the ensuing fall in overnight stays is between 0.5% and 1%  - and could be more, said the federation, Alpine and country tourism is the most affected.

The federation’s warning comes just days after the director of Switzerland Tourism,External link Jürg Schmid, said the domestic tourism sector was facing “crucial days”. He also pointed to telephones no longer ringing and online reservations not being made.

He added that the timing of the central bank’s decision on January 15, so close to the high tourist season, had triggered uncertainty among foreign customers and that Swiss tourism was still “in shock”.

Ditching the franc cap, which had been in place since September 2011, caused the franc to surge against the euro and dollar, sending shockwaves through the global financial system.

Even Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has got involved in doing PR for his homeland. “Still think it’s a wonderful place to visit, so please come,” he said, when asked about the effects of the SNB’s decisionExternal link at a press conference during the Australian Open on January 20.

According to the Swiss Tourism Federation, tourism accounted for CHF35 billion gross value ($40 billion) added in 2013, of which around CHF16 billion came from foreign tourists.

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