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Why Switzerland's new Covid certificate rule could dissuade skiers

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 7 Oct, 2021 Updated Thu 7 Oct 2021 15:20 CEST
image alt text
Skier some wearing protective face masks against the spread of the Covid-10 (novel coronavirus), hit the slopes with the Matterhorn as landscape above the ski resort of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps on November 28, 2020. - As EU countries debate a bloc-wide ban on ski holidays to curb coronavirus infections, downhill enthusiasts may be tempted to head to non-member Switzerland, where the winter season is well underway. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Tourism authorities in Switzerland are worried that a new certificate rule could keep skiers from outside the EU from coming to the Swiss Alps this winter.

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Many rules have been implemented in Switzerland since the introduction of the Covid certificate on September 13th, including those relating to tourism, but a new measure could seriously impact the willingness of travellers from outside the European Union to hit Swiss slopes this winter, tourism chiefs fear.

What is this new measure?

From October 11th, people coming to Switzerland from non-EU /EFTA countries will have to convert their health passes to a Swiss certificate and pay 30 francs for this service.

That’s because their QR codes don’t work in Switzerland.

People coming from the US, the UK and India will be among those obligated to make this change.

How exactly the conversion process works when a foreign tourist wants to obtain a Swiss certificate, and how long the waiting times are, is still unclear at this point.

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What could be the consequences of this measure? 

Swiss tourism officials and ski resort operators are concerned that non-European tourists will be put off by the financial and logistical obstacles.

“These tourists are essential for ski resorts”, according to Markus Berger, spokesperson for Switzerland Tourism.

“With the 30-franc fee, we have a hurdle that other countries don't have”, Berger said.

Only France has a comparable automated electronic conversion, but it is free of charge.

In the other countries, human-readable vaccination cards on paper or electronically would be accepted without conversion.

READ ALSO: Snow business: How to find a job in winter sports in Switzerland

"The reason why this service is free in France is obvious”, Berger said, adding that the French "set it up and made it available very quickly, offering it free of charge as an active tourism promotion measure. Unfortunately, there is no such awareness in Switzerland”.

On the positive side, a consideration that may outweigh the certificate conversion fee is that “Switzerland generally has the image of a clean, safe country. Last winter, too, we proved that we could get through the pandemic well”, Berger pointed out.

The tourism industry is lobbying federal authorities in Bern in an effort to rescind the 30-franc rule.

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Wait…is there a way to covert US and UK certificates in the first place?

The Local has reported about this issue recently.

You can see the answers here:

How Americans can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate with proof of US vaccination

Covid certificate: Can the UK’s NHS app be used in Switzerland?

Will the Covid certificate be required on the slopes?

The question of the certificate requirement to access the slopes is being debated in Switzerland.

Lukas Engelberger, president of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors, said that the certificate should be compulsory for everyone skiing in Swiss resorts.

However, people in charge of ski areas are against this requirement, preferring to maintain the same conditions as last winter: wearing a mask on ski lifts and cable cars, and respecting distances in queues.

However, the certificate will be required to access indoor areas of restaurants and bars, as is the case elsewhere in Switzerland.

 

 

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2021/10/07 15:20

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