One of the most developed industries in Switzerland is the tourism landscape. Switzerland is home to numerous eye-catching lakes, mountain villages, cities with medieval quarters among many other popular tourist landmarks. It should come as no surprise that many entrepreneurs are interested in opening a hotel or creating a successful hotel chain in Switzerland.
Asides from the usual tourists, Switzerland is also a hot spot for business tourism. Many cross-boarder workers come weekly to Switzerland for business purposes. Also, a large number of companies have their headquarters located in Switzerland, which is why businessmen from all over the world travel to Switzerland for board meetings and for other business activities that requires their presence.
If you are interested in opening a hotel in Switzerland, here are some of the things that you should keep in mind:
Choose a type of legal entity for your hotel
Any type of business activity must be conducted by a legal entity. You can choose the type of company that best suits your needs and then register the company. The most convenient option for a hotel is a GmbH. A GmbH is private limited liability company that is allowed to conduct numerous commercial activities, including in the service industry.
A GmbH requires a minimum share capital of only 20,000 CHF, with one ore more shareholders involved. However, at least one of the company’s directors must be a Swiss resident.
Business permits for hotels in Switzerland
The next step to take after deciding which type of company to incorporate in Switzerland is to obtain all the necessary business permits for a hotel. The permits testify the fact that the business activities of the hotel respect the requirements of the local legislation for accommodation units.
If you decide to build a new hotel, it is necessary to obtain a construction permit, issued by the Municipal Building Authority. The plans of the building are required in order to obtain the construction permit. The Municipal Building Authority will also be doing inspections for excavation and scaffoldings when the construction begins.
The Fire Department must also provide approval for the new construction by issuing a fire permit. The permit testifies that the building does not represent any fire hazards.
The Department of Waste and Recycling will also issue a permit, as all businesses in Switzerland, not just hotels, are required to collect the waste according to specific procedures.
Other approvals needed are the following:
- Approval for electric supply;
- Approval for water supply;
- Approval for sewage system;
- Sanitary approval.
Hotels are also required to obtain a special business license, which can usually be obtained within a week.
Taxation of hotels in Switzerland
Switzerland has one of the lowest VAT rates, compared with other European countries. This is possible due tot the fact that Switzerland sets its own VAT rate, as it is not part of the European Union and it doesn’t need to follow any of the guidance on tax rates established by the EU.
The standard VAT rate in Switzerland is 8%, however hotels and other accommodation units benefit from a reduced VAT rate of only 3.8%.
The hotel industry in Switzerland
Hotels in Switzerland are categorized using a star system, from 1 to 5. 1 star hotels and accommodation units offer only the minimum services, as required by law, while 5 stars depict hotels and accommodation units that provide high – class services.
In the year of 2015, there were over 5,000 hotels in Switzerland, with only 92 of them being classified as 5 – stars hotels. Most hotels, almost 500 of them are classified as 3 – stars hotels, according to the figures provided by the Swiss Hotels Association hotelleriesuisse.
Switzerland also has some of the best schools dedicated to the hospitality industry, which constitutes a great advantage to find highly – skilled workforce.