Positive signs for Tourism in Ticino

Institutional Communication Service

After years of difficulties, arrivals and overnight stays in Ticino have increased respectively by +4,9% and +4,6% in the year 2016 in the hotel industry, and +8,9% and +6,7% in campsites, thus confirming their crucial role especially in the summer. A boost in overnight stays came from Swiss tourists and partially from German visitors. Although the average levels of the previous five-year term were not reached, and it is still early to talk about a turnaround, in the medium long term it is still a positive sign, also confirmed by figures from the first months of 2017, and by the forecast of statistic models. In addition, for the year 2017, other factors leave hope for a further increase, thanks to improved access by public transport (AlpTransit) and to integrated offers such as Ticino Ticket. In the long run, much of the success will depend on the ability of the different tourist regions to cooperate – though differentiating themselves within their target market – in strategically planning events, and in improving the skills of the staff employed in the industry.

This sums up the framework outlined by the latest Destination Report carried out by the USI Tourism Observatory, a research unit of the Institute for Economic Research that, by cantonal mandate, registers and analyses the dynamics of tourism in Ticino in quantitative and qualitative terms.

The Destination Report is a comprehensive and comparative picture of the performance of the four major Regional Tourist Organisatons (OTR – Bellinzona area and Northern Ticino; Lake Maggiore and Valleys; the Lugano area; Mendrisio area and Lower Ceresio) and the Canton as a whole.

The 2017 Report (the 6th) has been published today. The analysis is based on data collected in the year 2016 and includes for the first time details regarding holiday homes, co-ops, and the analysis of Bed & Breakfast, Airbnb and secondary residencies, and an explorative analysis of the job market in the field of tourism.  

 

The different types of guests and their impact

According to the study on the economic impact of tourism in Ticino (2012), the gross amount of visitors in the Canton reached around 21 million of guests, divided as follows:   

  • Overnight guests: 38,6% of arrivals
  • Daytime tourists: 19,8% of arrivals
  • Other daytime tourists (transit, shopping, casino, etc.): 41,5% of arrivals

The role played by daytime guests is very important, despite the difficult in carrying out an in-depth analysis due to the lack of data available, and should therefore be taken into consideration in the products and services offered. Visitors for purely leisure reasons generate 90 CHF of average daily expenditure per individual.

Concerning overnight guests, the average daily expenditure is of 109 CHF. Hotel guests spend the highest daily amount (between 162 CHF for 1-2 star hotels, up to 280 CHF for 4-5 star hotels). Guests in structures other than hotels spend less on a daily basis, but they stay longer, and contribute equally to the economic fabric. Guests who stay in holiday homes should also be considered important (724 CHF average expenses per individual), as well as those in campsites (274 CHF), and in co-ops (189 CHF).  

 

Hotels: more arrivals but for fewer days

During the year 2016 the hotel industry in Ticino has registered 1.090.383 arrivals and 2.280.339 overnight stays. On an annual basis, the increase was respectively of 4,9% and 4,6%. Compared to the previous five years (2011-2015) arrivals have increased by 2,3% while overnight stays decreased by 1,5%, confirming a decrease of the average stay that has been dragging for years (-0,3% per year, -3,6% compared to 2011-2015). In a decade, it is gone from 2,5 days in 2005, to 2,9 days in 2016.

A review of overnight stays can be found in the table below that also shows figures and trends of the four tourist regions:

 

 

Ticino

Bellinzona area and Northern Ticino

Lake Maggiore and Valleys

Lugano area

Mendrisio area and Lower Ceresio

Overnight stays 2016

2.280.339

171.293

1.067.886

931.478

109.668

Variation compared with 2015

+4,6%

+3,1%

+7,9%

+2,6%

-5,5%

Variation compared with average 2011-2015

-1,5%

-0,9%

-2%

+1%

-15,1%

Average stay 2016

2,09

1,56

2,51

1,89

1,74

 

An increase in the number of Swiss tourists, and positive signs are also showing from Germany and from other distant markets

Swiss tourists have confirmed to be crucial in the year 2016, covering 62,8% of overnight stays. In the remaining 37,2% there are also guests from Germany 9,6% and 7,2% from Italy.

Overnight stays of domestic visitors increased in all regions. The number of foreign guests has grown in the region of Lake Maggiore and Valleys (+6,5%) and in the Lugano area (+1,7%), though it has decreased in the Bellinzona area and northern Ticino (-0,4%) and in the Mendrisio area and Lower Ceresio (-11,2%). A recovery of the traditional tourist market such as Germany has been registered, and the number of tourists from France, the US, Russia, Benelux, and South East Asia has risen.

Compared to the previous five-year period 2011-2015 , the trend is overall positive for Swiss guests and tourists from the United States, China, Gulf Countries, and South East Asia.

An overview of the situation can be found in the table below. Only the target markets of the single regions were taken into consideration.

Markets

 

OTR BAT

OTR LMV

OTR L

OTR MBC

Switzerland

Total overnight stays 2016

104.769

818.906

450.192

57.491

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

5,5%

8,3%

3,5%

0,3%

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

13,0%

2,9%

6,0%

-6,3%

Germany

Total overnight stays 2016

13.970

131.971

65.355

8.514

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

4,0%

12,1%

9,2%

2,6%

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-15,3%

-17,5%

-23,3%

-27,7%

Italy

Total overnight stays 2016

17.482

20.150

108.136

18.466

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-4,6%

1,0%

-7,6%

-11,1%

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-3,8%

-9,4%

-10,1%

-22,1%

United States

Total overnight stays 2016

1.585

10.238

38.726

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

9,3%

-0,8%

1,0%

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

19,6%

-1,2%

2,6%

-

France

Total overnight stays 2016

-

12.252

-

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-

7,2%

-

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-

-11,3%

-

-

United Kingdom

Total overnight stays 2016

-

9.262

22.458

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-

-4,5%

2,5%

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-

-8,2%

-0,3%

-

Benelux

Total overnight stays 2016

-

18.336

-

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-

14,4%

-

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-

-14,6%

-

-

Russia

Total overnight stays 2016

-

-

15.172

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-

-

6,7%

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-

-

-13,7%

-

China

Total overnight stays 2016

1.145

-

24.279

1.959

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-17,3%

-

-2,6%

33,2%

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-14,8%

-

30,1%

-11,5%

Gulf Countries

Total overnight stays 2016

-

-

41.758

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-

-

0,0%

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-

-

43,0%

-

South-east Asia

Total overnight stays 2016

-

-

12.519

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs 2015

-

-

18,6%

-

 

Var. % 2016 vs average 2011-2015

-

-

22,8%

-

Note: The absolute value must be taken into consideration for a proper reading of the data. In case of relatively low starting values, the positive or negative variation is greater. It is to be taken into account that the Regional Tourist Organisations (OTR) have started to promote themselves autonomously within their reference market only since 2015, after the law on tourism was reviewed: this factor must be considered when comparing data collected in 2016 and the average data of 2011-2015

 

A marked seasonality

The 2016 figures also confirm a marked seiasonality of the tourist sector: hotel overnight stays tend to concentrate in the summer (73%). Seasonality is greater in the Lake Maggiore and Valleys region (79%) and the Mendrisio area and Lower Ceresio (70%), less evident in the Bellinzona area and Northern Ticino (67%) and in the Lugano area (68%), which are known for their skiing locations (Bellinzona area and Northern Ticino) and to attract business tourism (Lugano area). The Lugano region managed to counteract its seasonality also in the medium term, registering an increase of 2,3% of winter overnight stays compared to the previous 5-years period.

 

Performance in line with attractiveness

The 2017 Destination Report also analysed the relationship between attractiveness of the four regions and room occupancy, in order to assess if the performances match up with the potential.

As shown in the charts in the image gallery, in the 2016 summer season all regions and Ticino as a whole have been efficient in terms of occupancy, which comes close to its potential in terms of attractiveness. During the winter, the Lake Maggiore and Valleys region and the Mendrisio area and Lower Ceresio have registered a high performance considering their attractiveness. The Lugano area performance is in line with its potential, and the Bellinzona area and Northern Ticino could do better considering their high potential comperade to the other regions.  

 

Alternative form of accommodation: a crucial role in the domestic market

The year 2016 has confirmed the crucial role in Ticino of forms of accommodation other than hotels, with 40% of the total overnight stays (against the 30% on national level).

After a few unfavourable seasons, campsites in our Canton have shown an increase of 6,7% of overnight stays compared to the year 2015, against the 4,9% on a national level, covering 44,1% of overnight stays outside of the hotel business, against 18,7% on a national level. Compared to the hotel industry, tourists stayed longer in campsites (in Ticino, 3,7 days vs 2,09). In the year 2016, 73.9% of the guests came from Switzerland, thus proving the important role these structures play in the domestic market, especially in Ticino (at an average Swiss level, the amount of Swiss guests in campsites was 61.2%).

Official surveys on rented holiday homes have been reintroduced for the year 2016, and for the first time official data on co-ops are made available. In both cases, data were collected on a sample basis, unlike those collected for hotels and campsites.

The 2.234 holiday homes considered in Ticino registered 61.994 arrivals and 441.095 overnight stays. The average stay has been of 7,1 days. Combined with the estimate of the average daily expenditure, this figure shows the importance of these type of guests, who are the highest contributors to the tourist sector with an amount of 724 CHF (74,2%), and with an incidence higher than the national figure (60,2%).

Co-ops (dormitories, holiday centres, company or club houses, mountain huts) have generated in Ticino 178.362 arrivals and 393.128 overnight stays. This resulted in an average stay of 2,2 days, lower than the national average (2,6). As for holiday homes, guests were mostly Swiss (93,3%) and also in this case the effect on the domestic market is higher than the national Swiss average (78,3%).

Results generated by Bed & Breakfast, hostels, Airbnb and secondary residencies, are still difficult to assess.

Hostels and Bed & Breakfast have been grouped with hotels and collective accommodation, according to their features. It is possible to isolate some figures concerning Bed & Breakfast with caution, fishing from the figures collected by the members of the Bed & Breakfast Switzerland Association. According to those figures, those kind of infrastructures in Ticino have a medium capacity of 8 beds, and they registered 14.615 arrivals and 33.105 overnight stays, with an average stay of 2,3 days, in line with national figures. A list of guests by country of origin is available only on a national level: 53% are Swiss, 15,7% from Germany, 4,7% from France, 3,8% from Italy, 2,3% from the united States, 2,1 % from Austria, 2% from Holland, and 1,4% from China.

Concerning Airbnb, it is possible to quantify only the offer: in the end of June 2016 in Ticino, there were 897 registered structures, for a total of 2.462 beds (2,7 per structure), that means a capacity equal to 15% of the one in the hotel industry.  

Secondary residencies generate about 3 million of overnight stays each year, according to the study L’impatto economico del turismo in Ticino (Tourism in Ticino and its economic impact). The daily expenditure is about 58 CHF, a figure that, if considered in combination with the higher average length of stays compared to other categories, shows how owners of secondary residencies generate a strong impact on the Cantonal economy.

 

The job market in tourism

The 2017 Destination Report also presents for the first time a detailed description of the tourism job market.

Though it is difficult to trace the boundaries of tourism related jobs, and to take into consideration their seasonably, for Ticino it is possible to estimate about 40.000 full time active workers in the last five years (employed in the tourism sector in its broad sense). Of these 40.000 employees, 10.000 are active in the hotel and restaurant industry.

The Destination Report 2017 concentrated on the latter for a socio-demographic representation. Figures show that tourism offers a high number of jobs to those people who find it difficult to find jobs in other areas, such as individuals without a highly-qualified level of education (87% Of full time workers in Ticino, 84,7% at national level), women, (49,5% in Ticino and 58% in Switzerland, respectively 43,7%, and 45,8%) or foreigners (59% in Ticino and 49% in Switzerland, respectively 49% and 28%).

 

Conclusions and considerations can be found in the full Report, available at:

http://www.otur.usi.ch/it/procedure-valutazione

 

For more information:

Riccardo Curtale

Tourism Observatory (O-Tur)

Istitute for Research in Economics (IRE)

USI Faculty of Economics

+41 58 666 4170

riccardo.curtale@usi.ch

 

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