Hoteliers call for agricultural free trade

The Swiss Hotel Association says free trade in agriculture with the European Union would make establishments better able to compete with those in neighbouring nations.

This content was published on January 24, 2012 - 14:58 and agencies

According to a study commissioned by the association, the higher cost of food in Switzerland is putting Swiss hotels at a disadvantage.

“Swiss hotels would have been able to save SFr1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) in 2010, had they been able to buy food supplies at Austrian prices,” said Christian Hunziker of BAK Basel Economics, which carried out the study, on Tuesday.

The report found that tourism prices in the Swiss neighbours of France, Germany, Italy and Austria were on average 22 per cent cheaper than in Switzerland in 2010. The euro was worth SFr1.38 at the time.

Swiss hotels and restaurants spend 17.5 per cent of their budgets on food and agriculture. But production prices are around 30 per cent higher in the country than over the border, it was found.

“The study’s results confirm that a free-trade accord with the EU for the food industry could bring the hotel industry some relief in terms of costs,” said the hotel association’s director Christoph Juen.

He added that Bern and Brussels should conclude negotiations on the issue.

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