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Economic Data


Swiss Economy 2021 and Outlook                                                                              (revised August, 2021)

Switzerland’s export oriented industry, the main source of its wealth, is recovering fast from the blows of the Covid19 pandemics. Exports in the second quarter of 2021 topped the high 2019 figures. The recovery, however,  varies by sectors with the signifcant pharmaceutical and financial sectors holding the lead. Compared to most other countries, the overall situation turns out to be considerably less "dramatic" thanks to the resilience of the economic structures, a stable financial standing (reserves) and a comparatively liberal regulatory environment. The 2020 GDP topped USD 724 billion (CHF 702.2 b) vs. USD 750 billion (CHF 726.9 b) in 2019. Corona related unemplyment keeps dropping from 3.5 percent in early 2021 to now approx. 2.6 percent. Industry already reports a sharp lack of qualified staff.

R & D

Investments in R&D at the forefront of technology are at 3.4 percent of the GDP of which two thirds are private sector financed. It ranks Switzerland on a per capita basis within the worldwide leading countries.  The country boasts two of the world's top universities with ETH in Zurich and EPFL in Lausanne.

Financial standing

Switzerland enjoys a financial healthy position compared to most "developed" countries. The national dept, as a result of Corona related additonal cost, rose to 25.8 percent (in relation to the GDP) by the end of 2020.  Reserves available to cushion expected 2021 expenses should "protect" the future high credit rating of the country.

The Swiss Franc keeps its role as an international “Safe-Haven” currency. The crucial rate of exchange CHF vs. EURO has remained stable for nearly two years at a rate of about 1.08 CHF/1 EURO.  The USD lost some of its value fluctuating at an exchange rate of approx. 0.8 CHF.  Switzerland’s National Bank (SNB) stands ready to stabilize the exchange rates as required.

Market Data

The following 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 EUROS) 


































GDP Per Capita











Income and purchasing power comparison 

Income and purchasing power are of  particular interest for the travel and tourism industry.  EUROSTAT
(EU Statistical Agency) data covering the per capita incomes of the 3 DACH countries compare as follows: 
Germany 23'637; Austria 24'232
(EUROS); Switzerland 40'739 (in CHF)  Exchange rate EURO/CHF 1 vs. 1.08

Purchasing power parities based on national currencies



Effective individual

Effective collective

Gross financial  

Switzerland (in CHF)





Germany(in EUR)





France (in EUR)





Italy in EUR)





Austria (in EUR)





EU (27 countries in EUR)





EU without UK. Source EUROSTAT 15.12.2020    

2021 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.  Nearly 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 they transfer yearly the equivalent of 26.5b 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.  

Wheras Swiss bilateral relations to most European nations are excellent, relations to the EU per se remain  less harmonious.  Negotiations at the request of the EU for a closer political integration failed after 7 years. The Swiss 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 political integration.






Worldwide Travel


(revised August 2021)

Profile of Swiss Travellers 

Historically the small size of Switzerland has forced its people to look beyond their borders, particularly with the beginning of the industrialization in the 19th century.  Most Swiss speak one or several languages of their neighboring countries (French, Italian, German).  Cross border business, travel and close personal relations have a long tradition. Old established international networks since the 19th century, particularely in Asia can still be felt.  Swiss are ardent travellers as a result.

Living in a multiligual (4 official languages) resp. multicultural country facilitates to adjust and cope with foreign environments. Language barriers, as a result, are low and English e.g. is widely spoken.  Swiss tend to be rather well informed about international politics and relevant issues, particularly in major and neighboring countries. Incomes and an attractive purchasing power allows people to ecape the "narrow borders" of their country and discover the world. In 2018 each resident did an average of 3.5 foreign trips with at least 3 overnights  They spent an average of $ 258.00* per day and person (domestic and foreign travel).  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.

Booking behavior: 71 percent of all travel (2018) was booked online (incl. sites of TO's or individual travel agencies).  The percentage of "do-it-yourself" dropped to seven percent from 13 percent in 2014 for safety reasons, in particular. About 27 percent use the personal service of  travel agencies (totalling USD 7 billion sales in 2018) Long haul and complex travel is often booked via travel agencies for reasons of safety, support and comfort. German speaking Swiss appear to be more safety minded than their French or Italian speaking counterparts. Many young people book at travel agencies to overcome limitations in the use of credit cards
                                                                                                                        *average exchange rate March 2019: 1.00 USD = 0.99 Swiss Francs.  

10 most popular foreign destinations of Swiss travellers by age in 2018

Age 18 - 24  25 - 29   30 - 34  35 - 39
 40 +
   1. Spain   Spain   Spain  Spain  Spain
   2. Cyprus   Greece   Greece  Greece  Greece
   3. Greece   USA   USA  USA  Cruises
   4. USA   Cyprus   Cyprus  Cyprus  Cyprus
   5. UK   Egypt   Italy  Italy   USA
   6. Egypt   Italy   Germany  Cruises   Italy
   7. Italy   Thailand   Egypt   France   Egypt
   8. France   UK   Cruises   Egypt   Portugal
   9. Cruises   Turkey
  France   Turkey   Tunisia
 10. Arab Emirates   Canada   Canada   Tunisia

Total worldwide Swiss spending for out of country travel  in 2019 is estimated to top USD 18 billion. 

Travel Industry Structure/Data 

The structure of Switzerland's travel trade is subject to considerable changes due to Corona and the resulting challenges. Updated data will be provided as soon as available.  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 is 15.6% (travel agencies). 2019 sales grew by 3.3 percent over the previous year.  Travel agencies charge their clients a handling resp. counselling fee of $ 60.00 which may be waived depending the total cost of a package.  


US Travel


Revised August 2021

A total of 474'550 people from Switzerland visited the U.S.in 2019.  The steady pre Corona upwards trend since 2017 shows  a plus of 7.12%!   Below graphic displays the overall stable market over the past 25 years 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 the limited size of the Swiss market it is assumed that many have taken several trips to the US per year.

Although daily life is still affected by COVID19,  the "Swiss appetite" for future travel to the US appears to be growing fast. It shows by the number of inquiries about relevant immigration rules and limitations. There is a general feeling of optimism once the situation will begin to "normalize".  People have money to spend on travel after nearly two years of restrictions

   Rate of exchange applied:   1 U.S. $ = 0.97. Swiss Franc.  
  2020 arrivals 63'321; 2021 arrivals (estimate) 15'000

Comment: Contrary to some media reports Swiss travel to the U.S. is mostly driven by the rate of exchange USD vs. CHF.  Political events such changing Administrations etc. seem to have little effect. 
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
Visit USA Seminar - This well established workshop and exhibit had to be cancelled due to Covid19 in Spring 2021. A 2022 event is pending depending US immigration regulations and the further development of the pandemics.  The Visit USA Seminar has an over 25 years history as a promotional tool which contributed greatly to the amazing success of Swiss travel to the US
USA Road Show - Cancelled due to Covid19. New dates will be communicated.  The Road Show is a promotional complement of the Visit USA Seminar to provide additional exposure in a smaller, more personal environment. It covers 5 cities in 3 days in German and French speaking Switzerland.
Miscellaneous events in cooperation and support of TheBrandUSA and other partners


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