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Pricey Switzerland ‘I can’t afford to come back home for holidays’

Alphornbläser und Schwinger vor dem Eiger im Berner Oberland

Despite the scenery and an excellent reputation, tourists are shunning Switzerland.

(Jungfrau Region, swiss-image.ch )

Due to high prices and a strong franc, some Swiss abroad say they can no longer afford to come home to visit on holidays. A clear theme emerged from comments following a recent article by swissinfo.ch.

The piece, which examined the reasons for Switzerland’s current difficulties in attracting tourists, provoked a barrage of commentary on Facebook. Sky-high prices were the main reason tourists gave for shunning the country: even Swiss expats complained of not being able to visit their homeland. Here we present a selection.

Regretful expats

J.H.: “As a Swiss woman living abroad, I could never come on holiday to my home country if my father wasn’t still living there. When he’s gone, I think that the other members of the family won’t be able to host us, financially. I find it a shame, because I am constantly losing ties with Switzerland, just like my children are, too.”

H.U.: “Switzerland is simply too expensive. It makes me crazy to see the prices. I can no longer holiday in Switzerland, even if it is my home country.”

M.B.: “As Swiss emigrants, we hardly ever come back home. It’s simply too dear compared with prices in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Slovakia, Romania, Portugal, Malta…”

H.P. “As a child, from 1963, I would always come to Switzerland, and it’s still my dream destination. Unfortunately, I can no longer allow myself Swiss holidays – compared with the euro, the franc is simply too strong. I live in Cologne but a little bit of Switzerland still remains in my heart.”

S.E.: “It's expensive, because our dollar ain't worth nothing there... but if you got the money, honey, it's the place to go... I love the beauty and cleanliness of Switzerland, and I love the chocolate, pastry, and cheese, it's the best food and goodies there. I know (I grew up there).” 

Priced out

T.K.: “Magnificent nature, well-maintained roads, everything quickly accessible. But for the normal citizen, it’s just too expensive.”

T.L.: “Are you so isolated in your sublime country to not have realized that it is out of the price range of the poor French? Your Austrian neighbours are scoring some points, however…”

A.H.: “I have family in Switzerland so have travelled there frequently on and off for years, usually visiting the Geneva area. Last year I took a week's trip to Zurich – I found it incredibly expensive. It's a lovely city but I couldn't afford to visit again unless am lucky enough to win the Lotto! The cost of Switzerland does put people off – Germany and Austria offer a lot better value for tourists!"

P.J.: “If it is necessary to work for four hours in Germany to earn the equivalent of one hour of work in Switzerland, then no, I am definitely not coming to Switzerland as a tourist.”

E.F.B: “Unfortunately too expensive for the average European citizen!”

M.M.: “Switzerland is beautiful but too expensive. A Margherita pizza costs CHF20, basically 19 euros, compared with 3, 4, or 5 euros in Italy or Germany…”

Cheaper choices

R.d.R.: “Greece and Spain are cheaper. For 30 euros and a one-hour flight, Germans can head to Formentera [Spain].”

J.V.: “Three days in Zurich and Lucerne costs the same as a week in the Maldives…”

W.a.d.P.: “Even the Swiss are going to Austria to ski now.”

N.E.: I just suck up the $8.00 hot chocolate at Starbucks, rather than what should be $3.50, just for the free wi-fi. I also stay with relatives for free. Honestly, while I love seeing the country, if it wasn't for the free stays I'd probably not be going back as much. Southern Germany looks very similar and is cheaper!”

Quality issues

M.S.: “Aside from the prices, there is also a problem of quality. In South Tyrol [Italy] you are immersed in the traditions and flavours of the mountains, while in Switzerland you find powdered milk, instant polenta, pre-cooked rösti, industrial beer and freeze-dried soup.” 

S.C.B.: “I don’t come, because Switzerland is dear and the service leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to civility and friendliness.”

D.G.: “Any of the post-1950 architecture is catastrophic. Food lacks imagination and cultural attractions are not great. I find it hard to convince my foreign friends to come. The neighbouring countries do a better job.”


(Translation from French: Domhnall O'Sullivan)

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