Prospects are bright for Switzerland’s winter tourism industry, which is pinning its hopes on a slew of new luxury developments and bigger, better ski resorts to get back to growth.
Aside from skiing, Switzerland has long been a prized winter destination due to an abundance of high-end shopping, luxury hotels and spas.
Resorts in western Switzerland compete with destinations across the border in eurozone France, including Avoriaz, Megeve and Meribel, where former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher suffered a skiing accident last month. Meanwhile, ski areas closer to Zurich have ceded ground to cheaper Austrian resorts. The persistent strength of the Swiss franc, which the central bank capped in 2011 to protect the economy, caused tourism to suffer.
Overnight hotel stays in mountain regions dropped off sharply and visitors from Europe declined at a particularly dramatic rate.
That has changed this winter, which is the key tourism season for Switzerland’s mountainous regions. Think-tank BAK Basel expects a healthy 2.9 percent rise in hotel stays, helped by a rising number of tourists from Asia and Eastern Europe.
Here are tips for getting the most out of an upmarket Swiss skiing holiday from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.
Let It Snow – In Style
Switzerland began this season auspiciously. Christmas visitors included Madonna and Elton John (Gstaad), Princess Victoria of Sweden (Zermatt) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was taking it easy after a spill while cross-country skiing near Pontresina.
Switzerland’s Alps got a plentiful supply of snow just as the winter season started but the franc still hovers perilously high against the euro and the U.S. dollar.