Switzerland, one of the most important travel destinations in Europe, boasts an exquisite grandeur, interesting traditions, and people with a firm reputation. Let’s not forget that when we think of Switzerland, we think of watches and chocolate. Besides all this, the relief is one of the major strengths that define Switzerland as a top tourist destination.
For example, St. Moritz is the oldest and one of the most famous and beautiful resorts in the world. This Elegant, chic and exclusive resort is situated at an altitude of 1856 m and enjoys 322 sunny days per year, which is a record in Switzerland.
Tourism industry in Switzerland
The Tourism and Travel Competitiveness Report, compiled by WEF in 2013, examined 140 countries, according to the policies that affect tourism infrastructure and resources. For the fifth year in a row, Switzerland was recognized as having the best tourism industry in the world.
Switzerland is also ranked at number one in terms of human resources. For example, the education system is considered the best among the countries analyzed. Employees are supported in order to accumulate adequate amounts of qualifying, so they can successfully activate in the tourism industry. Some of the best tourism management schools in the world are located in Switzerland as well, which is further testimony of the importance of this industry. The Swiss tourism industry contributed to the GDP 8.6% of the total amount in 2013 and secured jobs for 3.3% of the total number of workers in Switzerland.
Investing in Swiss tourism
Although Switzerland is not part of the EU, it maintains strong relationships with EU state members through a series of bilateral agreements. This aspect constitutes and advantage for foreign entrepreneurs who want to invest in the Swiss tourism industry, mostly to open hotels or travel agencies in Switzerland.
However, it’s necessary to keep in mind that there are certain regulations that must be considered, such as obtaining a Swiss resident permit before making any investments.
There are several types of Swiss companies that can be incorporated in Switzerland, but it’s also possible to open a sole trader, for those individuals who want to work on their own and provide tourism services or consultancy for tourists.
Swiss sole traders are also known as sole proprietorships or individual enterprises and represent the simplest form of doing business and it also allows owners to hire other employees. Foreign citizens holding a Swiss resident permit are allowed to open a sole trader.
Necessary steps to open a travel agency in Switzerland
Citizens from countries that are EU or EFTA members have the right to establish a business in Switzerland, even if they don’t have a C permit, due to the provisions of the Agreement of Free Movement of Persons.
In order to open a travel agency in Switzerland, EU and EFTA citizens are required to meet the following requests:
- Have a valid B permit, valid for 5 years;
- Declare the object of activity and provide the necessary proof for it;
- Have a valid bank account with a Swiss bank;
- Have a business plan;
- Register the travel agency in the commercial registry;
- Register with the professional register;
- Provide social insurance proof for themselves and for the employees;
- Register for VAT.
Foreign citizens from countries that are not EU or EFTA members must obtain the legal right to establish their own business in Switzerland. This process is significantly simplified if any of the following criteria are met:
- The person has a C permit, which allows them to become self – employed in Switzerland;
- The person is married to a person who holds a C permit;
- The person is married to a Swiss citizen.
If none of the criteria is met, foreign entrepreneurs are still allowed to open a travel agency in Switzerland, if they can provide proof for the fact that their business will have a positive and lasting impact on the Swiss economy, which means that a solid business plan is mandatory.
When foreign citizens are allowed to establish a business in Switzerland, they receive a L permit (short – term permit), which enables them to conduct business activities in Switzerland for 12 months. The permit can be renewed, but they must pass a labor law exam.