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China-Switzerland flights struggle to resume after three years

The return of Chinese tourists to Switzerland is not expected just yet. Keystone / Mark R. Cristino

Geneva airport was expected to see the return of direct flights from China next week, but the scheduled Air China flights of January 26 and February 2 have been cancelled due to lack of passengers, reports Swiss public broadcaster RTS.

China reopened its borders on January 8 after three years of tough pandemic restrictions. However, there were not enough bookings to maintain the first connections between Beijing and Geneva, the Chinese airline confirmed.

The next Geneva-Beijing flight is scheduled for February 9. Air China says that bookings should allow it to maintain this route.

SWISS International Airlines has not yet decided when it will resume passenger traffic between Switzerland and China.

The return of Chinese tourists to Switzerland will depend on several factors, says RTS. For the time being, the Chinese prefer to travel within the country or to other Asian countries, which are cheaper. Also, people are currently celebrating Chinese New Year and are rather staying with their families.

Another challenge is obtaining a passport or visa, says RTS. China stopped issuing passports during the pandemic, and renewal and issuance services are being resumed slowly.

As for visas, Beijing does not currently issue tourist or study visas. It does, however, issue business visas. In Switzerland, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) says there are no restrictions on the granting of visas to Chinese tourists. However, the system is also working slowly, according to Switzerland Tourism, as teams were greatly reduced during the pandemic and now have to be reconstituted.

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About Swissinfo
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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