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SWISS MARKET DATA

 

Economic Data

 

Swiss  Economy and Outlook 2023/24                                                  (revised in March 2024                                                                 

Latest Swiss economic data indicate that the initial recovery from the previous two Corona years is grinding to pace of plus/minus 1 percent. The general worldwide uncertainty and the wars in the Middle East and the Ukraine war are being felt. Further challenges include the availability of sufficient stable energy sources and a sharp lack of  qualified manpower. Growth forecasts (KOF) were lowered from to a mere one percent for the current year and expected to continue in 2024. Inflationary pressure remains at some 2 percent, a fraction of the inflation in the surrounding EU countries and is expected to top some 2.4 percent in 2024. Energy prices and costs for health care, insurance premiums and food are part of the main hot political issues. The export oriented manufacturing industry has shown so far a rather impressive resilience, based on the recent  reports. The potentially negative effect on exports the strong Swiss Franc (safe heaven currency) fortunately is compensated to a considerable extent by the low domestic inflation. Economic driving sectors, in particular, are the state of the art chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries.  Switzerland which depends on imports of nearly half of its food as well as virtually all raw materials and fossile energy is now taking adventage of its strong currency.  The purchasing power of the average Swiss appears to be little affected although a growing restraint in spontaneous spending is now being noticed.  Unemployment is at a record low of 2 percent and may be growing modestly in the coming year. .  2022 GDP grew from  CHF 731.66 in 2021 to CHF 771.22 (approx. $ 857). Inspite of the worldwide challenges little restraint has been noticed at this time when it comes to satisfy the appetite to travel. The recent electrions of Swiss Parliament reflected the typical stability of the system, resp. the country with slight gains of the political right.                                                                                                                              
(source KOF & SECO)

R & D

Investments in R&D at the forefront of technology continue at 3.4 percent of the GDP of which two thirds are private sector financed. On a per capita basis it ranks Switzerland within the worldwide leading nations. The country is also at the top of the list of new patents published by the Intl. Patent Office just recently   ETH in Zurich and EPFL in Lausanne rank among the world's leading universities

Financial standing

Switzerland enjoys a financial healthy position compared to neighboring countries. The national dept, due to Corona and other rising cost e.g. for defense and social programmes rose to 37 percent (in relation to the GDP).  It still is a comparably "comfortabl" position vs. most other nations. 

The Swiss Franc keeps its role as an international “Safe-Haven” currency. The inflationary pressure on Swiss export prices (e.g. due to the weakness of the EURO vs the Swiss Franc) is effectively compensated by the much higher inflation in the EURO and dollar zones. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) stands ready to stabilize the exchange rates as required.

Market Data

The following 2021 data are intended to allow a better understanding and ranking of the Swiss market within the European economic context.  Switzerland, although economically closely linked, is not a member of the EU.

Population, GDP and Per Capital Income of a selection of countries    (all in billion USD)*

Country

Germany

UK

France

Italy

Holland

Sweden

Austria

Ireland

Belgium

Switzerland

Population

83.9

68.2

65.4

60.4

17.2

10.1

9.0

5

11.6

8.7

GDP

4225

3187

2935

2101

1018

627

477

498

600

812

Per Capita

50.30

46.86

45.85

34.78

45.35

62.07

53

99.6

51.72

93.33

Comparison per capita and country of purchasing 2023**

Rank

Country

Purchasing Power  p.P.

1.

Liechtenstein

68.843 Euro

2.

Switzerland

49.592 Euro

3.

Luxemburg

40.931 Euro

4.

Iceland

33.424 Euro

5.

Denmark

32.490 Euro

6.

Ireland

26.882 Euro

7.

Austria

26.671 Euro

8.

Norway

26.301 Euro

9.

Germany

26.271 Euro

10.

U.K.

26.081 Euro

16.

Italy

20.205 Euro

 

Europe total

17.688 Euro

 

**Source: German Handelsblatt

*Source EUROSTAT without UK. 

2024 Swiss economic and political position in Europe and outlook

Inspite of its small geographic size, Switzerland is Europe's seventh largest economy, the EU's third ranking trading partner and the top foreign direct investor. Located in the very center of the European continent, with a multilingual, multicultural society,  Switzerland is not a EU member inspite of its close historical, cultural and linguistic relations.  EU membership is presently rejected by some 80 percent of the population.  Over 25 percent of the resident population are foreign nationals, mostly from the EU.  The country is an important workplace for over 1.5 million foreigners including some 340'000 crossing the borders daily for work. The Worldbank estimates that foreign residents transfer yearly the equivalent of some 4 billion USD to their home countries.  The EU, resp. its member states are the main trading partners. However exports  to countries outside of Europe nearly doubled within recent years exceeding now over 40 percent of total.  The US became the top export market of Swiss industry as of 2018.

Wheras Swiss bilateral relations to most European nations are excellent, relations to the EU per se remain somewhat less harmonious.  Negotiations initiated at the request of the EU for a closer political integration failed after 7 years. The Swiss top-down political system known as "direct democracy"  (allowing citizens to decide about taxes, regulations, agreements etc.) appears to be hardly compatible with the EU's goals of further centralization and close institutional integration. New negotiations are in preparation.  It remains one of the main domestic political issues. 

 



 



              

 

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Worldwide Travel

 

(revised in August 2023)

Profile of Swiss Travellers 

The small size of Switzerland historically has forced its people as of its early existence to look beyond the country's borders, particularly since the beginning industrialization in the 19th century.  Living in a multilingual society most Swiss speak one or several languages of their neighbors (French, Italian, German).  Cross border business and shopping, travel and close personal relations have a long tradition. A recent study revealed that old established international networks since the 19th century, particularely in Asia, can still be found and functioning.  Swiss are ardent travellers as a result and used to follow closely what is happening worldwide. Some 88 percent of the resident population has taken a least one international trip of one week duration in 2022. The German speakers appear to be considerably more travel-savy than their French or Italian speaking countrymen. 

Living in a multiligual (4 official languages) resp. multicultural environment facilitates people to understand, respect and  cope with foreign habits and cultures. Language barriers, as a result, tend to be rather low and English e.g. is widely spoken.  Swiss tend to be well informed about international politics and relevant issues, particularly in neighboring countries and the US. Incomes and an attractive purchasing power allows them to ecape the "narrow borders" of their country and discover the world.  They spent some $ 236.00* per day and person on foreign travel in 2022.  Swiss appreciate service, cleanness, punctuality and quality and are willing to pay for it.  They like to travel individually or in small groups, enjoy meeting the local population and avoid crowds.

Swiss travel to the US is driven, in particular now in 2023, by the rate of exchange. The difference in value (USD/CHF) by some 12-14 percent to the preCorona years (weak US$ vs CHF) compensates the inflation driven higher prices in the US.   Political events such as the change of the administrations and similar aspects tend to be overrated, particularly be the media, with respect to their impact on travel.. 

Booking behavior:  Over 70 percent of all travel before Corona was booked online (incl. sites of TO's or individual travel agencies).  The percentage of totally self-organized trips dropped now to some 10 percent, mainly for safety reasons (e.g. repatriation). About 30 percent use the personal service of  travel agencies.  Long haul and complex travel is often entirely booked via travel agencies for reasons of safety, support and comfort. Security became a priority during the the recent Corona pandemics pushing bookings at travel agencies. German speaking Swiss appear to be more safety minded than their French or Italian speaking counterparts. Swiss tend to accept paying more for quality and service. Many young people book at travel agencies to overcome limitations in the use of credit cards
                                                                                                                        *average exchange rate October 2023: 1.00 USD = 0.89 Swiss Francs.  

Travel Industry Structure/Data 

The structures of Switzerland's travel trade is subject to considerable changes due to Corona and the resulting challenges. It is now struggeling to hire new qualified staff which was lost during the pandemics.  Before the pandemics the Switzerland's travel trade consisted of some 1100 so-called Class A and about 450 Class B travel agencies. 

Largest companies include:

- Hotelplan Group          - Kuoni Travel (DER)
- TUI Suisse                 -  Knecht Reisen AG
- FTI                             -  Globetrotter

Average gross profit margine before Corona was 15.6% (travel agencies).  Travel agencies charge their clients a handling resp. counselling fee of  some $ 60.00 which may be waived depending the total value of a package.  

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US Travel

 

(Revised in October 2023)

The steady growth of some 7 percent from 2017 to the  474'550 Swiss arrrivals in 2019 was brutally interrupted by Corona.   Below graphic displays the overall stable market since the year 2000 besides all fluctuations with the alltime record of over 536'000 arrivals in 2015 (probably triggered by the low rate of exchange USD/CHF of 1/0.72 in 2013/14) Considering a resident population of nearly nine million it may be assumed that many have taken several trips to the US per year.

The "Swiss appetite" for travel to the US has been given a boost by the recent strength of the Swiss Franc vs the USD which keeps floating at a rate somewhat under 0.90 CHF.  The market, as a result is approaching the level of about 400'000 arrivals which used to be the average "Swiss production" in the past decades.  Inflation, could be kept around 2 percent, although a slight upwards trend is expected for 2024 due to the Swiss National Banks preventive interests increase.

 

 Rate of exchange applied:   1 U.S. $ = 0.89. Swiss Franc. 
 2020 arrivals 63'321; 2021 arrivals 560842022 arrivals 314'226;  2023 arrivals by September 288'630
AIRLINES WITH DIRECT SERVICE BETWEEN THE U.S. AND SWITZERLAND (before Corona/update in preparation)
Airline
Ex Zurich Ex Geneva
Swiss Intl. Airlines New York New Yorknnnnnnnn
American Airlines New York  

United Airlines

Washington D.C.,  Newark NY,  San Francisco CA
Washington D.C.
Delta Air Lines Atlanta,  New York  
United Airlines New York New York
Edelweiss Air
Tampa Bay, FL;  Las Vegas,  NV;  San Diego, CA,  Denver CO
   

Profile of average Swiss traveller to the U.S.

Swiss travellers like to discover the US individually or in small groups with friends making use of the well developped US travel infrastructure which is considered a “trademark” of the mobile American society.  It leaves them creativity in doing some "own" on-site planning.  Larger groups are mostly "special interest" such as trade associations, senior citizens, readers travel, (magazines) etc.  The average Swiss traveller is well informed about U.S. politics and life. Most have an above average purchasing power due to high incomes.  Swiss attach importance to punctuality, quality of service, food and good accommodation and are willing to pay  for it. These aspects are more important to 54 percent than the price which has priority to 35 percent (2018 Alliance Insurance Intl. study) Most speak at least basic English. Spring and Fall have become increasingly popular for US trips.  Although worldwide security problems are a matter of growing concern the U.S. is still considered by most a "safe destination. 

As shown on above graphic the rate of exchange impacts greatly on the volume of travel to the US, particularly if it allows to be a financially attractive alternative to destinations "less far away".  Spending per person and day in the U.S. is USD 295.00. 
 
What are Swiss travellers looking for in the U.S.?
The majority of Swiss enjoy meeting local Americans.  They like the easy contact and accessibility.  Authenticity is important. Big cities with cultural and sports events, shopping, sightseeing and restaurants are popular.  The friendly hospitality of American small town communities and their lifestyle are most appreciated.  Cities with a fascinating multiethnical, cultural and historical background like  San Francisco, New Orleans, Miami,  Boston, Chicago  and New York are "musts" as well as nature and wildlife (national parks and forests);  native Americans;  Western lifestyle (horses, BBQ, dude farms);  outdoor activities (jeep tours, river rafting, helicopter rides, biking).  In past years the beautifull, little croweded beaches made the US a tempting alternative to traditional beach vacations in Europe or in politically less stable countries. Typical American sports  (rodeos, baseball, American football) less known to the Swiss are popular.  They enjoy the excitment at such events.  American hospitality is an asset  and an occasional touch of American nostalgia is appreciated, in particular by people of 45  years of age and more. The Swiss are open to new, less known regions, states and parks - somewhat off the tourist mainstream.  This also applies to whole regions, cities, hotels etc. off-the-beaten-tracks. 
 
Where do they go?

You may find Swiss all over, increasingly off the beaten tracks.  They like to travel on their own.  Making on-site complementary arrangements is popular - where they like it.. (event bookings, extensions, excursions). .   The high percentage of repeat visitors is reflected by the interest in less known or new destinations.  Popular states and regions are:  New York (NYC)  California, South West (AZ, UT, NM, NV), Florida, Alaska, New England States South (FL, GA, SC, LA, KY, TN), Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Hawaii,  Oregon, Wash. State,  Texas,  Mid-Western States/Great Lake States. 

 
Within Switzerland Promotional Opportunities 2024
USA Island Hopping (former Visit USA Seminar) January 31, 2024 - This well established workshop and exhibit had to be cancelled due to Covid19 in 2021 and 2022.   The 2024 event will take place on January 31st with a new format addressing the needs of the changeing market, under the new name of USA Island Hoping.  It will allow partners (destinations & service providers) to systematically present their products to small focussed groups of visitors (rotating from island to island). Please note that the non-profit promotional platforms of the Visit USA Committee have an over 25 years history as cost effective sales tools tailored to the mentality and needs of the Swiss market. The contribute greatly to the amazing success of Swiss travel to the US. 

USA Road Show - (9-19-21, 2023). The Road Show is a popular promotional complement of USA Island Hopping to provide additional exposure in a smaller, more personal environment. It covers an average of 5 cities in several days in German and French speaking Switzerland.

Please note that presentations may also be given in English. Authenticity is much appreciated in the Swiss market!

Miscellaneous events in cooperation and support of TheBrandUSA and other partners

         

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