Launching the winter season at a press conference in Zurich outgoing Swiss Tourism boss Jürg Schmid said he was “approaching winter 2017/18 with much confidence” after a forecast 3.7 percent rise in tourism, reported news agency ATS.
This optimism is primarily due to the recent fall in the franc against the euro. After two winter seasons with the franc at 1.10 or below against the euro, European tourists will now get 1.16 francs for every euro.
In effect that means a day’s ski pass will cost European visitors 6.5 percent less than the previous season.
“We need European guests, they come more often than others and don’t only visit the big resorts,” said Schmid.
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Numbers of European guests are unlikely to go back to the level they were prior to the euro crisis but Schmid said Switzerland could this winter recoup at least 15 percent of those lost.
Despite the lower number of foreign visitors to the Swiss Alps in recent years, tourism still managed to rise by two percent last year due to an increase in domestic visitors.
That should continue this year, perhaps to record levels, according to forecasts.
Domestic tourists can benefit from several innovations instigated by ski resorts determined to boost figures, including a crowd-funded low-cost season pass in Saas-Fee that launched last season.
Elsewhere, the new Magic Pass links 25 resorts in western Switzerland under one single season pass which cost 359 francs on launch, while skiers in the Bernese Oberland can buy a single season pass for 666 francs covering the Jungfrau resorts plus Gstaad, Adelboden and Meiringen.
These initiatives were derived in the wake of two poor snow seasons, with resorts at lower altitude particularly suffering.
The start of last winter season was particularly bad, with 12.6 percent fewer people using Swiss ski infrastructure from November to the end of December.
A study published last year revealed that Switzerland now has 40 fewer snow days a season than it did in the 1970s, with snow coverage decreasing both at lower and higher altitude.