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China favours Switzerland as a tourist destination

Chinese tourists on the Kleine Scheidegg in 2017 © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Chinese travel agencies will soon offer tourists 20 destinations around the world. Switzerland, which does not require a Covid test, is one of only two European countries on the list.

The announcement was made by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism on January 20, Le Temps newspaper reported on Wednesday. This relaxation comes as Covid-19 has reportedly infected 80% of the population in recent weeks.

After nearly three years of strict border closures, Beijing decided on December 7 to lift most travel restrictions in China and then to allow its citizens to travel abroad again. From February 6, Chinese travel agencies can offer 20 destinations, including Switzerland and Hungary.

Earlier this year Beijing criticised the European Union’s recommendations that people should be tested for Covid in China before flying to a European destination. This measure is applied by all of Switzerland’s neighbours but was deemed unnecessary by Bern on January 11.

“The circulation of Covid-19 in Switzerland is currently so high that compulsorily testing the relatively small number of people arriving in the country from China directly by air would have minimal impact on the virus’s current spread,” the government said.

As one of the biggest spenders on luxury goods, Chinese tourists had become a windfall for many countries over the past decade. On January 15 the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) pointed out how Chinese tourists not only fill Swiss hotel rooms but are also big spenders, parting with around CHF380 ($410) a day, with much of this on souvenirs. This makes them the second most generous tourist group in Switzerland after visitors from the Middle East.

“Chinese tourists will be asked to ensure that they are not infected with the highly contagious disease before boarding flights,” said the official Chinese website But there is no obligation to do so. On the other hand, Beijing still requires travellers to China to have a negative Covid test to fly.

For its part, Switzerland Tourism is only expecting a slow increase in numbers of Chinese tourists from summer. This is because there are currently no direct flights from China to Switzerland, Schengen visas have to be re-issued in China, and tour operators have to plan their trips first.

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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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