A long-standing point of discussion aprés ski is whether more people go to the mountains in summer or winter?
Well, based on the statistics produced by the Swiss Tourism federation, it is in the summer judged by overnight bed stays, by roughly 20m compared to 15m. However, this doesn’t take into account the impact of reduced overnight bed availability in winter, e.g. camping sites and a preference for accommodation right next to the lifts. It’s also hard to assess the impact of day trippers – in winter the trains of Switzerland are busy with locals and expats going skiing for the day throughout the week and especially at weekends.
Interestingly the only source nations more likely to stay overnight in Switzerland in winter are Russians and Scandinavians. Americans and Asians overwhelmingly prefer to visit in the summer.
Another measure of the size of the respective tourism trade in winter and summer would be seasonal employment. Here, roughly 200,000 are employed and the number is pretty much the same in both winter and summer.
So, in conclusion, the answer is that it mostly varies between resorts, with some resorts getting more in winter and others more in summer, but in balance probably more visit in summer. However it is clear that both are equally important to the well-being of Alpine resorts that rely upon tourism. And for Switzerland it is a trade that is worth CHf 35bn per annum and constitutes the fourth largest source of export income, or 5.5% of the total.