How Swiss holiday habits have changed

Travel habits among Switzerland’s population have changed dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a new study has revealed.

How Swiss holiday habits have changed
Most people chose to stay in Switzerland in 2020. Photo by AFP

Tourism and mobility habits were disrupted in 2020 not only by the virus itself, but also due to various travel restrictions across the world, according to a new study by motoring organisation Touring Club Suisse (TCS). 

One of the findings is that people in Switzerland have favoured the car for getting around, to the detriment of public transport. The number of respondents who used public transport during the pandemic, dropped from 29 percent in 2019 to 18 percent in 2020.

There was also a shift in terms of holidays, TCS found.

About a third of those surveyed opted to stay at home during holidays, compared to just 16 percent in 2019. Of those who did leave their homes, 44 percent chose to stay in Switzerland, while that number was 25 percent in 2019. 

The perception is “the closer to home, the better”, TCS said, adding that cantons of Ticino, Valais and Graubünden have been the most popular destinations during the pandemic.

Of those who travelled abroad, 23 percent went to neighbouring countries — 12 percent less than a year earlier.

Only 7 percent ventured farther in Europe, compared to 26 percent in 2019. And only 0.6 percent left Europe, compared to 12 percent in 2019.

While on holiday, 46 percent of Swiss travellers used the car, against 36 percent in 2019.

Air travel has experienced a dramatic drop, as only 7 percent of Switzerland’s travellers opted for this mode of transport in 2020, compared to 32 percent a year before. 

“While in the past, concerns about the safety of overseas travel were mainly related to terrorism, now the problems of disease and pathogens are more important”, TCS said.

International travel has been problematic not only because of the epidemiological situation, but also due to restrictions currently in place in various countries, including, in many cases, the obligation to present a recent negative Covid test before entering a foreign country. 

And from February 8th, Switzerland has implemented new restrictions for people entering the country, including residents returning from abroad. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland's new travel and quarantine rules?

They include online registration and a negative Covid test prior to travel. 

Also, people arriving from countries at risk must self-quarantine for 10 days, though this period could be shortened if negative test result is presented to cantonal authorities on the seventh day

READ MORE: Quarantine: Switzerland updates coronavirus 'high risk' list



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What is the fine for not filling out Switzerland’s Covid arrival form?

There is one essential form all travellers to Switzerland must fill out, but many don’t. If caught, border guards will hand out fines.

A 100-franc fine could be imposed on those who don’t fill out the Personal Locator Form
Important paperwork: Switzerland-bound travellers must fill out the PLF form or risk getting fined. Photo by Zurich Airport

With constantly changing travel rules, it is difficult to keep up with all the regulations that need to be followed to enter Switzerland (and all the other countries, for that matter).

Since September 20th, everyone arriving in Switzerland, regardless of their country of origin, mode of transport, or vaccination status, must fill out the electronic Personal Location Form (PLF).

Once filled out and registered online, you will receive a QR code which you will have to show when entering Switzerland.

However, some people may be unaware of the requirement and enter the country without this form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

Checks are done randomly, so many travellers slip in without having filled this form. But if caught, you will have to pay a 100-franc fine.

So far, 200 people had to pay this fine, according to Tamedia media group.

The only people exempted from this rule are transit passengers, long-haul lorry drivers transporting goods across borders,  children under 16, cross-border workers, and residents of border areas.

The PLF requirement is an addition to other travel regulations the Federal Council implemented in September:

Two tests to enter Switzerland are now required for the unvaccinated and unrecovered.

Unvaccinated arrivals and those who have not contracted and recovered from the virus in the past six months must show two negative tests. 

The first proof should be presented when arriving in Switzerland.  Then, four to seven days later, travellers will have to undergo another test, which they must pay for themselves.

Both PCR and antigen results are accepted.

These rules only apply to arrivals from nations not on the Switzerland’s high-risk list. As the United States and United Kingdom are considered high risk, only vaccinated people from those countries can arrive in Switzerland.

This article contains more information on the rules which apply. 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s new travel and Covid certificate rules?