Who wants to buy a hotel? Swiss Alps in shock over franc's rise
By Tom Miles and Caroline Copley
GENEVA/ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss Alps already looked pricey before the Swiss National Bank dropped its currency bombshell on Thursday. Now Swiss tourism fears being frozen out altogether.
As the central bank's shock decision to scrap a cap on the Swiss franc pushed the currency up nearly 30 percent, some businesses were already reporting cancellations as visitors rushed to rearrange their plans for the busy winter season.
Swiss hoteliers vented their fury on social media and politicians urged the Swiss to support the country's tourism industry, while resorts across the French border cheered a "Godsend" as they looked forward to new Swiss clients.
"Swiss people! Take your holidays in Switzerland!," said Swiss tourist office chief Juerg Schmid on a twitter account.
In Gstaad, hotelier Thomas Frei tweeted: "Great, first rejections, wanting to know the euro rate and whether we can do a better rate. While I’m at it, does anyone want to buy my hotel?”
Tourism contributes 3 percent of Swiss GDP and hotels and restaurants employ 5 percent of the labor force.
The franc's abrupt surge, which sent the Swiss stock market down 9 percent on Thursday, comes weeks before European school half-term breaks which mark the height of the ski season, and a week ahead of the World Economic Forum, the annual meeting of rich and powerful in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
It is unlikely to dampen the spending of the many well-heeled attendees at Davos, although it will be noticeable. Continued...