Tourists staying two or more nights in approved Geneva hotels and guest-houses are getting a free 100 Swiss Francs (€92, $109) gift card, thanks to a campaign meant to kick start the Swiss capital's ailing tourism sector amid the global coronavirus pandemic, as seen in footage from Wednesday.
Geneva's tourist board launched the Geneva Gift Card mid-July. It will extend until December 31st and could be renewed next year if the situation does not improve.
The Gift Cards can be used in any participating business which has registered with the Geneva Tourism & Convention Foundation, including hotels, guest-houses, restaurants, cafes, bars and wine-growers. According to Geneva Tourism director Adrien Genier, 95 percent of the hotels have signed up and so far over 2,000 vouchers have been sold. The sector has been strongly hit by the COVID-19 crisis and the occupation rate of the hotels is 65 percent lower when compared to the same period last year (figures for July 2020).
The current crisis linked to the coronavirus has completely disrupted the economy as a whole, in particular the hotel and catering sector, which employs 15,000 people in Geneva from a total population of around 200,000. Lars Wagner, general manager of Beau Rivage hotel, describes the situation due to coronavirus as «catastrophic». He added the hotels are being forced to «think out of the box» and come out with original and new ideas. He still believes that there is some «positive light» and that the industry and city will get through this «all together».
The Canton of Geneva has a total of 6,647 COVID cases and 296 deaths, with the local authorities making the decision to retain a ban on clubs opening and private events of over 100 people. Restaurants must also ensure guests leave contact details to aid with case tracking.