Elena Logutenkova/Bloomberg

Europeans’ Overnight Stays in Swiss Hotels Plummet on Franc

The strong franc is keeping Europeans away from Switzerland.

The number of overnight stays by visitors from the region declined 14.5 percent in March from a year earlier, according to data published on Thursday by Switzerland's federal statistics office. The number for German guests declined 16 percent. Other notable declines for euro-area countries included a 38 percent drop in stays by Belgians, a 15 percent fall among the French and 21 percent decrease for the Dutch.

The franc has appreciated 16 percent against the euro since the Swiss central bank abolished its currency cap in mid-January. That has made vacations in Switzerland -- which traditionally are more costly than in other parts of the Alps -- even more expensive.

The numbers are "probably not a surprise given what has happened on the currency side," said Jon Cox, head of Swiss equities at Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich. "The Swiss tourism industry is in for a tough year."

Bucking the trend, overnight hotel stays rose among British, American and Asian travellers, with numbers for mainland Chinese increasing 25 percent.

Among Russians, there was a decline of 36 percent. Their numbers have fallen over the past year, deterred from holidays in Europe due to a drop in the ruble and the political standoff over Ukraine.

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