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Swiss tourists stayed close to home in 2020

Hiking, and biking, were rare winners in the pandemic. Keystone / Arno Balzarini

New data on Swiss travel habits during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic show fewer overnight stays, less air travel and a collapse in trips beyond the borders of Europe.

This content was published on December 8, 2021 - 15:36
Keystone-SDA/dos

In 2020 the Swiss resident population made a total of 15.1 million trips which included at least one night away from home, according to a report published by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) on Wednesday. That’s 1.9 trips on average per person, down a third from the 2.8 recorded in 2019 and down from a five-year high of 3.1 in 2017.

The destinations for these trips also shifted: the majority (55%) were in Switzerland itself, whereas in 2019 domestic stays were in the minority. This might have gone some way to mitigating the damage to the Swiss tourism sector in 2020 – driven by the disappearance of foreign visitors – which led to the Switzerland Tourism body calling 2020 its “annus horribilis”.

Foreign trips by Swiss dropped by over a half (-52%) in 2020, with the most popular destinations being neighbouring France, Germany and Italy. Just 3% of all multi-day trips abroad were beyond the borders of Europe – that’s down 71% on 2019, almost the same decrease as that recorded by air travel in general (-70%).

Day trips (“private or business trips away from one’s usual environment, lasting from three hours to a maximum of one day”) involving public transport or car journeys also suffered under the impact of health measures and lockdowns, dropping 27% in 2020. On the other hand, the number of one-day tours on foot or by bike almost doubled.

Some 3,000 people from across Switzerland provided their 2020 travel details to the FSO to form the basis of the studyExternal link. There was no mention of figures for 2021.

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