Tourism / Transport
Tourists are drawn to Switzerland's Alpine climate and landscapes, in particular for skiing and mountaineering.
As of 2011, tourism accounted for an estimated 2.9% of Switzerland's gross domestic product.
Tourism begins with British mountaineers climbing the main peaks of the Bernese Alps in the early 19th century (Jungfrau 1811, Finsteraarhorn 1812). The Alpine Club in London is founded in 1857. Reconvalescence in the Alpine climate, in particular from Tuberculosis, is another important branch of tourism in the 19th and early 20th centuries for example in Davos, Graubünden. Because of the prominence of the Bernese Alps in British mountaineering, the Bernese Oberland was long especially known as a tourist destination. Meiringen's Reichenbach Falls achieved literary fame as the site of the fictional death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (1893). The first organised tourist holidays to Switzerland were offered during the 19th century by the Thomas Cook and Lunn Travel companies.
Official statistics of tourism were planned since 1852, but were only realized from 1934, and continued until 2003. Since 2004, the Federal Statistical Office had discontinued its own statistics, but collaborates with Switzerland Tourism in the publication of yearly "Swiss Tourism Figures". In the year 2011 as a total number of 4,967 registered hotels or hostels, offering a total of 240,000 beds in 128,000 rooms. This capacity was saturated to 41.7% (compared to 39.7% in 2005), amounting to a total of 38.8 million lodging nights. 14% of hotels were in Grisons, 12% each in the Valais and Eastern Switzerland, 11% in Central Switzerland and 9% in the Bernese Oberland. The ratio of lodging nights in relation to resident population ("tourism intensity", a measure for the relative importance of tourism to local economy) was largest in Grisons (8.3) and Bernese Oberland (5.3), compared to a Swiss average of 1.3. 56.4% of lodging nights were by visitors from abroad (broken down by nationality: 16.5% Germany, 6.3% United Kingdom, 4.8% United States, 3.6% France, 3.0% Italy).
The total financial volume associated with tourism, including transportation, is estimated to CHF 35.5 billion (as of 2010) although some of this comes from fuel tax and sales of motorway vignettes. The total gross value added from tourism is 14.9 billion. Tourism provides a total of 144,838 full time equivalent jobs in the entire country. The total financial volume of tourist lodging is 5.19 billion CHF and eating at the lodging provides an additional 5.19 billion. The total gross value added of 14.9 billion is about 2.9% of Switzerland's 2010 nominal GDP of 550.57 billion CHF.
The major airport of Switzerland is at Zurich, main railway connections are to Geneva, Zurich and Basel. The main connection across the Alps is via the Gotthard Road Tunnel and the Gotthard Rail Tunnel. The new Gotthard Base Tunnel, opening in 2016, will improve the rail connection.
The most visited Swiss tourist attractions are first, the Rhine Falls, second, the Berne Bear exhibit (both for free), and third, with over 1.8 million paid entries: Zoo Basel.
The most dense rail network in Europe of 5,250 kilometres (3,260 mi) carries over 596 million passengers annually (as of 2015). In 2015, each Swiss citizen travelled on average 2,550 kilometres (1,580 mi) by rail, which makes them the keenest rail users. Virtually 100% of the nework is electrified. The vast majority (60%) of the network is operated by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS). Besides the second largest standard gauge railway company BLS AG two railways companies operating on narrow gauge networks are the Rhaetian Railways (RhB) in the southeastern canton of Graubünden, which includes some World Heritage lines, and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB), which co-operates together with RhB the Glacier Express between Zermatt and St. Moritz/Davos. On 31 May 2016 the world's longest and deepest railway tunnel and the first flat, low-level route through the Alps, the 57.1-kilometre long (35.5 mi) Gotthard Base Tunnel, opened as the largest part of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) project after 17 years of realization. It starts its daily business for passenger transport on 11 December 2016 replacing the old, mountainous, scenic route over and through the St Gotthard Massif.
Swiss private-public managed road network is funded by road tolls and vehicle taxes. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute system requires the purchase of a vignette (toll sticker)—which costs 40 Swiss francs—for one calendar year in order to use its roadways, for both passenger cars and trucks. The Swiss autobahn/autoroute network has a total length of 1,638 km (1,018 mi) (as of 2000) and has, by an area of 41,290 km2 (15,940 sq mi), also one of the highest motorway densities in the world. Zürich Airport is Switzerland's largest international flight gateway, which handled 22.8 million passengers in 2012. The other international airports are Geneva Airport (13.9 million passengers in 2012), EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg which is located in France, Bern Airport, Lugano Airport, St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport and Sion Airport. Swiss International Air Lines is the flag carrier of Switzerland. Its main hub is Zürich.
Depending on the purpose of your travel to Switzerland, there are different types of Swiss visas that will apply to the occasion. Whether you are planning to go on a visit, study or work and reside there permanently, you will have to apply for a different Swiss Visa, accordingly.
You can apply for the Swiss Schengen Visa since 2008 when Switzerland as an EFTA Member State also became a member state of the Schengen Area.
General required documents for a Swiss Schengen Visa Application:
- Download the application form, fill it completely and with sincerity. You can also fill the Schengen Visa application form electronically and then print a hard-copy.
- 2 photos must be attached; the photo should be of passport format – a recent whole-face capture with a light background. Learn more about photo requirements and specifications for a Swiss Visa.
- Your passport and copies of your previous visas – valid for at least 3 months beyond return date – are required. Your passport must have at least two blank pages.
- A copy of your return-ticket reservation. It is not recommended to purchase the ticket before obtaining the visa – if not otherwise required
- Travel medical insurance confirmation of minimum 30,000 € coverage within Switzerland and the entire Schengen area
- A cover letter stating the purpose of visit to Switzerland and itinerary
- Flight itinerary reservation with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from Switzerland
- Proof of accommodation for the whole duration of the intended stay in Switzerland
- Proof of civil status (marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, death certificate of spouse, ration card if applicable)
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay in Switzerland. A foreign national who wants to enter and reside in the territory of Switzerland must be able to attest owning at least 100 CHF or 92.34€/day on his disposition during its stay in Switzerland, while, in case the foreigner is a student this amount reduces to 30 CHF or 27.70€/day. A foreigner is obliged to provide such proof of sufficient financial means, the moment applying for a Swiss Visa to the Swiss Embassy or Consulate.
UK residents, please read: How to Apply for a Switzerland Visa in the UK?
- Employment contract
- Current bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Leave permission from the employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary
- A copy of your business license
- Company bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
If a student:
- Proof of enrollment
- No-objection certificate from school or university
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months
- Regular income generated by property proof of the latest 6 months
*Note: The signed application form must be accompanied the rest of the above-mentioned mandatory documents and handed personally at the appropriate embassy/consulate or its representative in your home country.
Additional documents required for the most frequent purposes of the Swiss Visa Application:
Swiss Tourist Schengen Visa additional requirements:
- Invitation letter with the address and phone number from family member or sponsor – if applicable
- Bank statement of the last 6 months
- Passport copies
Swiss Schengen Visa for Business Purposes:
- Invitation letter from the Swiss company you will be visiting and their detailed address accompanied with the dates of your visit
- A certificate from your employer stating/allowing your business travel
- If there were previous trade relations between the two companies, proof of such events must be provided
- Business bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Memorandum and Article of Association in original certified copy (registered with joint stock companies) Trade License (first issued and present renewal), Proprietorship/Partnership documents
- Regarding the applicant’s expenses during stay in the Schengen zone, either the employer or the partner company must state coverage of expenses on the letter or invitation.