Switzerland did not have official statistics documenting tourism at the national level until the year 1934. Data from earlier decades is of varying quality and is only available for the canton and local level. Due to its representative character, however, that data can be used as a basis for projections covering in part the era of 1851–1913 and in part the first three decades of the 20th century.

Value Added Series for the Years 1851–1913

Estimation of the gross production value and value added of the Swiss tourism industry is the subject of a licentiate thesis (“Lizentiatsarbeit”) of Peter Püntener conducted as a contribution to the National Fund project “Money supply and economic growth in Switzerland 1851–1913” (“Geldmenge und Wirtschaftswachstum in der Schweiz 1851–1913”). Püntener’s estimate solely covers operations providing food and lodging to guests; for methodological reasons, private room rentals had to be excluded.
In order to estimate the value added of tourism, Püntener first used the results of tallies performed at several tourism centers. This, however, yielded the number of guests but not the number of lodging nights, information about which is essential for the calculation of tourism value added. It therefore became necessary to craft an alternative concept that reflected the source situation. Püntener ended up using a three-stage procedure to estimate his goal value. In a first step, he searched a multitude of widely differing sources – travel guides like Baedeker, local histories, architectural surveys, etc. – for information on the bed supply of individual hotel operations. Püntener inventoried and processed into statistics whatever useful data was available, which served as a basis for estimating national bed supply. The second part of the procedure called for a determination of the percentage of beds actually used. Since the data in the contemporary sources for the period of 1850–1893 did not allow Püntener to create the formation of long-term series, he had to resort to replacement indicators. He regressed the percentage of beds used recorded since 1894 for hostelries owned by members of the Swiss Hotelier Association against rider frequencies in tourist railroads and the number of telegrams transmitted from post offices, and applied the coefficients of this analysis to preceding decades. After having so estimated the percentage of beds used for the period of 1851–1913, Püntener once again consulted his sources in order to determine the components of the gross production values – sales from actual lodgings (room nights x average cost per night), tips, room and board. A final review of the sources proved necessary in order to move from the gross production value to value added: only qualitative literature provided an impression of the approximate magnitude of intermediate consumption, such as maintenance costs, insurance premiums, repairs, and owners operating licenses.

Arrivals, Room Nights, and Room Supply for the Period of 1894–1933

For the national level, we only have the estimate series generated by Püntener for the period of 1851–1979. For the years 1880, 1894, and 1912, the Swiss Hotelier Association performed its first significant inquiries that provided information on the structure of the Swiss tourism industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among other data, the inquiries determined the number of hostelry operations and guest beds at the canton level, with the 1912 count additionally differentiating between hotel size. The major results of these inquiries, as well as those of the trade operation surveys of 1905 and 1929, were printed in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland. The same series of publications also contained data on the number of hotels in individual cities and tourist areas between 1910 and 1933. Another source, “Reports on trade and industry in Switzerland” (“Berichte über Handel und Industrie der Schweiz”), issued by the board of the Swiss Trade and Industry Association, reports on the nationality of hotel guests between 1894 and 1922. This statistic, analogous to Püntener’s numbers on percentage of beds booked, only covered operations whose owners were members of the Swiss Hotelier Association during the reporting period. This is probably the reason why hotel frequency figures are given exclusively as percentages for the period 1894–1922. However, they were sufficient for us to reconstruct arrivals from the major countries of origin in absolute numbers. Based on the estimates of the Hotelier Association and taking into consideration the corrections performed by Püntener half a century later, we estimated the overall number of guest arrivals in Swiss hotel and spa operations for the years 1894–1933. Subsequently, we multiplied this series of estimates with the percentages of individual countries of origin provided until 1922 by the “Reports on trade and industry in Switzerland”; for 1926–1929 by the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland; and by Gölden for the years 1925 and 1930.
We re-estimated the overall number of hotel nights for the years 1920–1933. Our procedure consisted of increasing the Gölden and Koller series by a correction factor that had resulted from a comparison between Gölden’s and Püntener’s figures for the years 1910–1913.
In their reviews of tourism in Switzerland, neither Gölden nor Koller or Gurtner considered it necessary to provide a third value of relevance: the total number of guest beds as an annual series. Since the “Reports on trade and industry in Switzerland” provide the bed supply in the larger tourist areas and in cities since 1923, we were nonetheless able to perform an estimate covering the years 1923–1933. We could not, however, include the entire set of numbers, as we had to pay close attention to keeping data from the years 1923–1933 more or less compatible with that from the year 1934. This was definitely not the case for all series, as 1923–1933 bed supply recordings primarily correspond to the summer season, while the 1934 figures cover the full calendar year. We proceeded by researching the 1934 bed supply for 14 major tourism areas and cities for which the 1933 and 1934 figures seemed comparable – namely Berne, Gstaad, Interlaken, Lucerne, Vitznau, Basle, Bad Ragaz, Arosa, Davos, St. Moritz, Schuls-Tarasp-Vulpera, Baden, Rheinfelden, and Lugano – and computing the sum of those 14 individual values. We then took that sum and placed it in relation to the sum total of all guest beds for the year 1934 as listed in the official Tourism Statistic. The resulting quotient, approximately one fifth, was then applied to the preceding eleven years and thus provided an estimate – no doubt one that could be improved upon – of the national bed supply level for the years 1923–1933.

Tourism Statistics for the Period 1934–1992

The official tourism statistics of Switzerland mainly report on annual changes of supply and demand in the hotel and spa industries. We thoroughly processed the summaries presented up to 1966 in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland and the publication “The Economy” (“Die Volkswirtschaft”/“La Vie économique”), and since 1967 in a separate publication series issued by the Federal Statistical Office “Tourism in Switzerland”. We report on the two major indicators, the bed reservation level as a percentage of total beds available and the number of room nights no less than three ways: after presenting summary results for all of Switzerland, we cover regions and cantons, and finally provide tables containing data for individual places and cities frequented by tourists. In our opinion, the data in these statistics is of high quality, but it should be interpreted in consideration of the fact that various areas of the para-hotel industry are either not covered, or covered only beginning with the latter part of the 1960s.
For hotel operations, i. e. for more than 99% of lodging providers not counted as part of the parahotel industry, it is possible to break down guest arrivals and hotel night information by country of origin. We made extensive use of this opportunity at the national level and used the countries and groups of nations in the summaries of the Federal Statistical Office almost without exception. At the canton and regional level, we limited ourselves to the differentiation between hotel nights by domestic and foreign guests. Finally, for the local and city statistics, we entirely refrained from determining the nationality of guests; information regarding the total number of guest beds, the booking level as a percentage of total beds, and the total number of arrivals and room nights were deemed more important.
By the year 1934, the variety of tourism attractions listed in the official Swiss Tourism Statistics by far exceeds the capacity of the “Historical Statistics of Switzerland”. Therefore, we only provide data for those places and cities that managed to remain in the top group for at least several decades. In order to reflect the fact that certain tourist centers lost importance over time while others managed to increase their attractiveness, we performed a division into four time periods.
The first table presents numbers from the years 1910–1933, originating from the Statistical Y earbook of Switzerland, the “Reports on trade and industry in Switzerland”, and – as far as the supply of guest beds in Grisons’ tourist centers is concerned – from an essay by Gurtner on the tourism and economy in Grisons. Since, for the most part, the series included in this summary show seasonal rather than annual values, they either cannot, or can only conditionally, be compared to data collected from 1934 for the same locales. Still, with the help of this table it is possible to examine the peaks and valleys experienced by the major Swiss tourist centers between 1910 and 1933.
We divided the period 1934–1992 into three sections. In order to improve clarity, we made the divisions between the first and the second and between the second and third sections broader so that the tables each overlap each other by two years. In addition, we increased the number of tourist centers in each table by two, all in the hope of being able to present an impression of the strong growth of Swiss tourism industry in the second half of this century. Our reactions to the content changes in the official statistics varied. We treated municipalities that were covered individually in some years and jointly in others (Villars-Chesières and Schuls-Tarasp-Vulpera) as nonchanging entities. Where official statistics provide data for only two of three otherwise jointly covered municipalities, we broke the respective series (Saastal, consisting of Saas Almagell, Saas Fee, and Saas Grund). We had to resort to the same measure in two cases where, for a period of three years, the official statistics provide data for an entire metropolitan area instead of for an individual city (Lucerne and Lausanne). Two other series even had to be terminated entirely at a certain point since the statistics of successive years no longer contain any data on the spas and hotels in the tourism areas in question (Baden and Rheinfelden). However, we feel that the above- mentioned incongruities only marginally impact the relevance of the overall body of statistics in this chapter.

SOURCE: «Tourism» in Ritzmann/Siegenthaler, Historical Statistics of Switzerland, Zürich: Chronos, 1996, 735-739

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The current chapter contains 17 table(s) between 1850 and 1993