Zurich region reports new guest record - but Chinese guests stay away

The tourists are back: the Zurich region recorded almost seven million overnight stays last year, around 20 percent more than in the previous year. This means that 2023 has even surpassed the previous record year of 2019.

Last year, the Zurich region had 20 percent more travelers than in the previous year. However, most of the Chinese guests have not yet returned. (Symbolic image: Keystone/Steffen Schmidt)

"We didn't expect such a strong recovery," said Thomas Wüthrich, Director of Zurich Tourism, to the media on Thursday. "We are surprised ourselves."

Most tourists staying overnight in the region currently come from Switzerland. Instead of London or Paris, many Swiss travel to the Limmat for a city break. Swiss guests are followed by those from North America, Germany, the UK and Southeast Asia. Zurich is then often the starting point for trips to other regions.

Brit:innen come to ride the train

Americans in particular have a lot of catching up to do, Wüthrich continued. The British, on the other hand, are remarkably happy to travel by train. The Advertising campaign with Roger Federer and Trevor Noahwhich promoted the "Grand Train Tour of Switzerland" in 2023, a combination of all the well-known panoramic routes. This journey also passes through Zurich, where rail travelers often stay overnight.

Those who stay away, however, are the Chinese guests: since the coronavirus pandemic, there have hardly been any groups taking photos in Zurich city center.

Hardly any more Chinese group tours

There are initial signs that the Chinese are coming back to Zurich, but as individual tourists rather than in groups. Zurich Tourism is advertising in the Chinese market, but according to Wüthrich, "with the handbrake on."

Those who also do not return are classic business travelers who stay one or two nights in the Zurich region. This segment has definitely been lost due to the online meetings that have become commonplace. "The only business trips left are for congresses, when you can meet a lot of people in a short space of time."

Figures likely to stagnate

As far as the current year is concerned, Zurich Tourism expects overnight stays to stagnate. "Last year's development is unlikely to be repeated in 2024," said Wüthrich.

Even though Switzerland is still primarily known abroad for its mountains, overnight stays in cities now account for a third of all overnight stays. Zurich accounts for the most overnight stays, followed by Geneva, Basel and Lucerne. (SDA)

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