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Pandemic crashed demand for hotels and trains

Far more hotel beds were empty than usual in the first half of this year. Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

The number of overnight stays in Swiss hotels practically halved in the first six months of the year. Covid-19 also hit demand for public transport, with passengers notching up a third of their normal distances by train in the past three months.

Hotels saw 9.9 million overnight stays from the start of the year until the end of June, a drop of 47.5% compared with the same period in 2019.

The year had started well for the hospitality industry, with January and February showing increases in guest numbers, before Covid-19 virtually shut the business for the next three months. Overnight stays plummeted 62% in March, 92% in April and 79% in May compared with the previous year.

The fall in numbers was particularly pronounced among foreign guests (minus 88% in the first half of 2020) compared with a quarter fewer domestic guests. June saw improvement, with 1.44 million overnight stays in Swiss hotels, but this was still 62% below 2019 numbers.

Not on track

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown also saw a 63.6% reduction in kilometres being clocked up by passenger trains between the start of March and the end of June. Freight transport was less affected, with almost 14% fewer kilometres being covered in the same period.

Wearing face masks became compulsory for train passengers from July 6.

In the autumn session, parliament is due to debate a proposed CHF800 million ($872 million) rescue package for the public transport sector.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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