Swiss ski resorts offer exchange rate deals

Certain Swiss ski resorts are offering European tourists discount exchange rates for the euro to offset the impact of the strong franc, although some critics are not happy about the practice.

Obersaxen in the canton of Graubünden, for example, is offering a euro exchange rate of 1.20 francs instead of the current rate of 1.03 (as of Tuesday morning) for lift tickets in a bid to stay competitive, broadcaster SRF reported on its Regionaljournal programme.

The decision by the Swiss National Bank to abandon a euro floor exchange rate of 1.20 francs earlier this month has hit the Swiss tourist industry hard.

Currency traders drove up the value of the franc and overnight the cost of visiting Switzerland rose by about 20 percent for visitors from the eurozone.

But the industry has been contending with the highly valued franc for several years.

Seven years ago the euro was worth more than 1.55 francs before falling in stages to a level briefly near parity in September 2011 when the Swiss central bank intervened in currency markets to maintain it around 1.20 for more than three years and three months.

In Grächen, a ski resort in the canton of Valais, the tourist office is advertising winter holidays for a fixed euro exchange rate of 1.35 francs.

In the Portes-du-Soleil ski area that straddles the Swiss-French border, the Swiss resorts have dropped prices by 15 percent in order to stay competitive with the neighbouring ones in France.

Hotels and shops in parts of Graubünden are offering a euro-franc rate of 1.10 or flat discounts of 10 percent, the Blick newspaper reported online.

But the newspaper said that deals for tourists from the eurozone have drawn criticism from those who feel Swiss tourists are being discriminated against.

Other resorts, such as Arosa-Lenzerheide in Graubünden and Saas-Fee are highlighting the added value of services that are sometimes hidden, such as including the price of public transport with ski lift tickets , or complimentary warm ovaltine served on mountain railways.

“We strive for effective measures, Gieri Spechsa, spokesman for Graubünden Tourism told Blick.

“At the moment these are not normal times.”

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