March 7, 2016 / 9:56 AM / 3 years ago

Overnight stays in Swiss hotels show worst January since 1998

A view shows the snow-covered mountains around the Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss hotels posted 6.8 percent fewer overnight stays in January as a lack of snow kept travelers away from Switzerland’s ski resorts and mountain getaways, official data showed on Monday.

Guests spent 189,000 fewer nights in Swiss hotels than they did in January 2015, the month the Swiss National Bank sent the franc soaring against the euro by removing a minimum exchange rate, causing headaches in Swiss tourism.

Demand from Europeans outside Switzerland dropped by nearly a tenth in 2015 to its lowest in nearly six decades, and fell a further 11.2 percent in January 2016.

Overall, overnight stays were the lowest since 1998 for January, typically a strong month for Alpine tourism.

Asian demand remained resilient, however, and a steep rise in Gulf country visitors helped offset fewer Chinese arrivals.

Visitors within a 500-800 km radius tend to react to weather conditions and plan visits accordingly, Switzerland’s tourism organization has said, while those hailing from further afield will have already booked — and paid for — trips in advance.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields

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