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200 francs for every resident: The proposal to save Switzerland’s corona-hit tourism industry

A member of Switzerland’s National Council is proposing a plan which would give every single resident a 200-franc voucher to spend in the country’s ailing tourism industry.

200 francs for every resident: The proposal to save Switzerland's corona-hit tourism industry
Why head to the Med when you can take a splash in Lake Geneva? Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland’s tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit in the country by the coronavirus crisis. 

To turn things around, a number of proposals have been developed to incentivise Swiss residents to holiday in their own country. 

The centrepiece of the support plan is to give every Swiss resident a 200-franc voucher to be spent in the Swiss tourism or hospitality industries. 

As reported by the NZZ on Tuesday, the Social Democrats hope that the voucher scheme will help out the tourism, culture and leisure industries. 

The vouchers can be used in hotels or with tourism operators, while the money can also go towards restaurants and leisure facilities. The total cost of the voucher scheme will be CHF1.7 billion.

'This won't be a normal summer': How the EU hopes to save the holiday season

Swiss tabloid Blick wrote earlier in May that while the scheme is proposed for summer, the vouchers will remain valid into the winter. 

'Strong incentives are needed'

SP National Councillor Sandra Locher Benguerel, who developed the plan, said it was up to the government to incentivise holidays locally. 

“With freedom of travel restricted, strong incentives are needed for the Swiss population to spend their holidays in their own country,” Locher Benguerel said. 

“The massive decline in foreign clientele should therefore be replaced by local customers.”

Summer in Switzerland: Where will the Swiss be able to go on holiday?

 

Tax breaks for local stays

One proposal put forth by National Councillor Fabio Regazzi (Swiss People’s Party) is to give tax breaks to any Swiss resident who travels in Switzerland. 

The proposal demands that holiday makers be able to deduct the money they spend on vacation within Switzerland, up to the value of CHF5,000. 

“Tourism is suffering and has been hit hardest by the crisis,” Regazzi said. 

“It is urgently necessary to kick start tourism again.”

Regazzi said this was a better option than the voucher scheme as it did not require government to directly fund travel. 

“This makes holidays in Switzerland more attractive without the need for government subsidies.”

 

 

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad
 

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