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3.8% more overnight hotel stays than in 2017: according to the Federal Statistical Office (SFSO), 2018 was generally very pleasing for the hotel industry (hotels, spa hotels and selected youth hostels), with a total of 38.8 million overnight hotel stays. This includes 17.4 million more overnight hotel stays by guests from Switzerland, which is an increase of 2.9% on the previous year. The major towns once again contributed to this good result, recording 5.7% more overnight hotel stays than in 2017. This figure has increased by 15.9% over the past five years. A 3.7% increase in visitors from Europe is particularly reassuring, following long years of decline (detailed list by market).
At the time of publication of the Annual Report, only the results for the first three quarters were available for holiday homes, collective accommodation and campsites: in this period, the SFSO recorded an encouraging increase of 4.2% in the number of overnight stays in supplementary accommodation compared with the previous year.
Developments over the last three years (since the new statistics were introduced) indicate that supplementary accommodation is gaining in relevance for Swiss tourism. There was a real boom for campsites in particular, with overnight stays increasing by 13.2% compared with 2017 (Q1 – Q3).
The statistics for holiday homes, which were reintroduced in 2016 by the SFSO as part of the supplementary accommodation statistics (PASTA), are now compiled using a new method (see the explanation below). Overnight stays have grown by 4.2% (2018 vs. 2017, Q1–Q3) – an indicator that supplementary accommodation is gaining in relevance.
Increase in European guests, but no all-clear yet
Overnight stays by guests from Germany were particularly striking, with an increase of 3.9%. The BeNeLux countries also recorded positive development, growing by 3.9%. Despite the Brexit confusion, figures for visitors from the United Kingdom also grew, increasing by 2.3%.
Yet overnight hotel stays of guests from Europe to the Swiss Alpine region have fallen by a huge 43% in comparison to 2008. Figures from 2017 and 2018 do however indicate that the trend has bottomed out, and the number of European guests is increasing once again. Nevertheless, a huge effort must now be put into marketing, to climb out of this low and pursue sustainable growth back to pre-2008 figures.
North America driving overseas visitor growth
The dominance of Chinese guests over other overseas guests has weakened slightly, as the growth in overnight hotel stays from other countries has become much stronger. The strong and stable increase from China (including Hong Kong und Taiwan) did continue in 2018 (+6.1%). But the real driving force behind the growth in overseas guests is North America: in 2018, the USA market grew once again (+10.1%), recording well over 2 million overnight hotel stays. This makes the USA the second most important foreign market for Swiss tourism after Germany. Overnight stays by guests from South-East Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore) grew by over 10%. And India continues to be successful with +9.6%.
At the time of publication of the Annual Report, there were still no details about countries of origin for holiday home figures. However, the highest proportions of guests in supplementary accommodation in 2016 and 2017 were from Germany, the Netherlands and France. So it is reasonable to expect these markets to take the lead again in 2018.
HESTA or PASTA?
HESTA accommodation statistics from the Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) recorded overnight hotel stays in hotels, spa hotels and – since 2017 – 14 selected youth hostels*. These figures for overnight hotel stays are published on the SFSO hotel accommodation page.
The complete HESTA survey also includes campsites despite them falling under supplementary accommodation. Arrivals and overnight stay figures for campsites are therefore listed on the SFSO supplementary accommodation page.
PASTA supplementary accommodation statistics record the supply and demand of commercially run holiday homes and collective accommodation (dormitories, association and club houses, mountain huts and refuges). Unlike HESTA, PASTA is based on random sampling. and was reintroduced in 2016 with a new data collection method (guest rooms and long-term rentals, among others, are no longer recorded). Arrivals and overnight stay figures are also listed on the SFSO supplementary accommodation page, along with the figures for campsites.
Participation in both statistics is mandatory (exception: individuals in private households).
*Comment on the methodology used by the SFSO regarding youth hostels: From 1 January 2017, accommodation statistics include 14 Swiss Youth Hostel businesses that meet NOGA (General Classification of Economic Activities) criteria for hotels and similar accommodation.