Swiss tourism may suffer $9bn loss due to pandemic

Bern, (Asian independent) The coronavirus pandemic could cause 8.7 billion CHF ($9.05 billion) loss to Swiss tourism between the months of March and June, according to a study.

Conducted by the Tourism Institute of the HES-SO Valais, the study released on Friday involved more than 3,500 major tourism stakeholders including restaurants, hotels, ski lifts and tourism organizations, reports Xinhua news agency.

Results of the study indicate that Swiss restaurant owners expect their sales to drop by around 95 per cent in April and May, with a loss of at least 4.5 billion CHF in turnover in 2020.

Equally massive reductions are expected by the accommodation providers, showed the study, and the cancellation rate at around 80 percent in the hotel industry will lead to a historically low occupancy rate.

As a result, one in five entities in the sector could face bankruptcy, with around 30,000 workers in danger of losing their livelihood.

Although the hotel industry forecasts a higher filling rate in the summer months as the confinement measures continue to ease and restaurants allowed to reopen as of May 11, in the absence of foreign tourists, the outlook for the summer in the tourism sector still looks bleak, noted the researchers.

Tourism is one of the pillar industries in Swiss economy. Figures from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office showed that the sector contributed 47.2 billion CHF in 2018.

According to Erik Jakob, head of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the relevant departments of the Swiss government are now examining a proposal for a stimulus package worth 40 million CHF to support the tourism sector.

“First we have to assure the tourism industry survives (the shock) before we can invest,” Jakob told a news conference last month, adding that it could take more than 12 months for the industry to recover.

So far, the Swiss Confederation has granted the tourism enterprises loans and short-time work unemployment benefits under the general relief plan.

Switzerland has so far reported 29,705 coronavirus cases, with 1,754 deaths.