Good news from Switzerland: Recently released data from the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics indicates that the number of nights Americans spent in Swiss hotels is up 8.9 percent, while arrivals increased by 11.5 percent. The upward trend started in the fourth quarter of 2009 and accelerated in the spring and summer of 2010.
"Switzerland is definitely on the rise," said Alex Herrmann, director of Switzerland Tourism Americas. "The U.S. again is the third most important foreign market for Switzerland, with more than 1.5 million overnights in Swiss hotels."
In particular, the region of Central Switzerland with the city of Lucerne has recorded a large gain of American visitors, as have the Matterhorn region (17.6 percent) and the city of Basel (17.3 percent). The Passion Plays in Oberammergau in neighboring Germany brought an estimated 3 percent growth alone. However, several other factors contributed to the result as well: increased air capacity due to the new direct Swiss flights from San Francisco to Zurich, and (thanks to a slowly improving economy) business travel rebounded after the challenging years of 2008 and 2009.
According to final 2010 figures, the number of overnight stays registered in the Swiss hotel industry in 2010 was 36.2 million, a rise of 1.7 percent, or 619,000 overnight stays more than in 2009. Swiss demand was up 2.2 percent and that of foreign visitors 1.4 percent.
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