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Hostels and camps prove a hit with locals

Youth hostels remain popular with families Keystone

Staying on a campsite or in a youth hostel has become more popular among the Swiss, with the number of overnight stays at both on the rise.

This content was published on April 23, 2007 - 18:07

Locals accounted for 506,000 nights or 58 per cent of all stays in a hostel in 2006, according to figures published by the Federal Statistics Office on Monday.

They were followed by visitors from Germany - the country's northern neighbour – who accounted for 14 per cent.

The total number of nights spent in this type of no-frills lodging rose during 2006 by 1.6 per cent, the Statistics Office said.

Nearly three million stays on campsites were recorded for the entire year.

The Swiss made up more than half of the bookings, followed once more by the Germans and then tourists from the Netherlands.

Around 40 per cent of nights in youth hostels were spent during the summer months (June to August), proving that some like it hot.

This was also true of campsites – more than two-thirds of overnight stays took place in July and August.

Some like it cold

A significant number of tourists seemed to like it cold, toughing it out on camping pitches in winter and autumn.

This meant that 11 per cent of stays took place between January and April, and October and December. But the Swiss Federation for Camping and Caravanning told swissinfo that these campers were unlikely to have been braving the elements in tents.

"More and more people have caravans these days which have good heating and are insulated. It's not like in the old days," said Hanspeter Hiltbrand, editor of Camping Revue, the organisation's magazine.

The federation has more than 40 campsites that are open all year round, which are ideal for those interested in winter sports. "People spend their winter holidays [there, staying overnight in their caravans] and skiing nearby," Hiltbrand explained.

He added that there was a hard core of campers "who do stay in tents during the winter but not for long periods, only at weekends".

Hostel hits

The eastern canton of Graubünden was top of the charts for hostel stays, accounting for 13 per cent of the total in 2006.

Nearly half the stays took place in Zurich, Italian-speaking Ticino, central Switzerland and the Lake Geneva area. The most popular campsites were in Ticino, followed by Valais and the Bernese Oberland.

The Statistics Office told swissinfo that 2006 had been a good year for budget accommodation.

"Overall, growth was very positive," said Florence Porret, "however, one has to be careful about the growth experienced by campsites."

This was because some campsites that may have qualified as such in 2005 did not count a year later for the purposes of collecting statistics, she explained. In February the Statistics Office revealed that 2006 had been a bumper year for Swiss hotels, with stays up by 5.8 per cent, at 34.8 million.

As to whether a comparison could be made between the figures for camping and hostelling and those for hotels, Porret said that the increase in overnight stays in all areas displayed a "global evolution".

"The hotels had an excellent year, as did the campsites and youth hostels," Porret added.

swissinfo, Faryal Mirza

Key facts

Swiss youth hostels had a bumper year in 2006.
Turnover increased by nearly SFr3.5 million to SFr32.12 million.
59 locations accounted for 880,286 overnight stays, an increase of 1.6 per cent on the previous year.
87,276 youth hostel members stayed in Swiss hostels in 2006 (+2.2 per cent).

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