Corona measures relaxed in China
However, the Chinese are not yet returning to Switzerland
Thanks to the imminent lifting of the quarantine obligation, the Chinese will be able to travel around the world again. However, Swiss tourist resorts are not yet hoping for much in the short term.
An Air China plane lands in Beijing: From January 8, 2023, traveling to and from China will be much easier.
Jean Claude RaemyEditor Economics
For two years, China was practically cut off from the world. Only a few were able or wanted to enter the country, and the 1.4 billion Chinese were also largely stuck due to the drastic corona measures. That will change soon: From January 8, 2023, there will no longer be a quarantine requirement upon entry. As soon as this was known, searches for trips abroad on Chinese platforms skyrocketed.
This is also of great interest to Swiss tourist destinations. In 2019, the last full year before the corona pandemic, China was the fifth most important source market for Swiss tourism. 1.8 million overnight stays by Chinese tourists were recorded, most of them in the summer months. Every tourist from China spent 380 francs a day. No wonder the Chinese have been sorely missed ever since.
No immediate return
However, the fact that the Chinese will soon be able to travel again does not cause any euphoria. “This step will not lead to an immediately noticeable increase in Chinese guests in Switzerland,” explains Markus Berger, spokesman for Switzerland Tourism. The first trips abroad take Chinese guests primarily to Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea. This is confirmed by Stephan Roemer (59), CEO of Diethelm Travel Asia: There are already inquiries from Chinese groups for trips to Asian destinations.
Intercontinental travel is likely to be a long time coming due to a lack of flight capacity and visa infrastructure. Roemer does not expect a large number of flights between Europe and China again until mid-2023. Airlines are very interested in flying to the world’s most populous country again. However, Swiss, for example, is not taking on any passenger flights to and from China in the short term: Such would have to be carried out with operational stability in the long term, says a Swiss spokesman.
Full recovery only from 2025
According to this, only a few guests from China are likely to arrive in the first half of the year, and then in somewhat larger numbers from summer/autumn. “For 2023, we expect almost 50 percent of the hotel overnight stays in 2019 to return fully to the level of 2019 at the end of 2025 or 2026,” says Berger.
The Swiss holiday resorts with a traditionally high proportion of tourists from China will have to be patient. These are primarily the tourism regions of Lucerne/Vierwaldstättersee and the Bernese Oberland. Lucerne Tourism has not yet registered any increased booking requests from China. Spokeswoman Sybille Gerardi does not dare to make any predictions – in addition to the hurdles mentioned, such as flight capacity and visas, reduced consumption in China and above all the critical pandemic situation there are causing restraint.
Marketing is ramped up
Even if little is going on for the time being: Now the course is being set for the comeback of the Chinese. Switzerland Tourism has never stopped working on the Chinese market. Many marketing events have been conducted online. “But now we will certainly increase the intensity of our activities significantly,” says Berger. Switzerland Tourism is already planning several activities and campaigns to make Switzerland palatable to the Chinese again.