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Financial Year 2020

In 2020, the spread of the global pandemic brought Swiss tourism to the limits of its endurance and economic viability. The massive travel restrictions and closed restaurants and wellness centres also hit Swiss Youth Hostels hard.

Dear Readers,

Thanks to the extraordinary commitment of all its employees and the honorary Executive Board, as well as the understanding approach of many partners, Swiss Youth Hostels has coped well with the COVID crisis under the circumstances. This highly motivated and committed team is also the guarantor for a successful future. Since 1 July 2020, the organisation has been led by a young management team which has been working very well together and tackling the required development and change processes with courage and expertise.

wellnessHostel³⁰⁰⁰ Laax

wellnessHostel³⁰⁰⁰ Laax

In 2020, the network of Swiss Youth Hostels consisted of 46 own and 6 franchise hostels. We accommodated 212,186 guests from 147 countries in our own hostels. The share of Swiss guests rose to 86.7% and overnight stays dropped to 484,878, a reduction of 34.2%. Youth hostels in urban areas recorded the largest decline, while demand in rural regions and mountain areas held up well. Since the first lockdown in spring 2020, school camps were only held occasionally and group trips were restricted.

Youth hostels were open throughout the year during the usual seasonal periods. During the lockdown, we were able to accommodate, in particular, stranded business professionals and tradespeople, people in special situations, as well as the military and other persons who supported the medical institutions during the pandemic. After openings gradually increased, more guests seeking respite from the stress of everyday life started to return.

Burgdorf Castle Youth Hostel

Burgdorf Castle Youth Hostel

Two youth hostels, however, were opened during the pandemic, under difficult conditions. Unfortunately, Burgdorf Castle Youth Hostel was unable to hold its large folk festival for its opening in spring. The “castle for everyone” features a public restaurant, an event area, museum and youth hostel, an offer that was very popular among the Swiss in the summer of 2020. In mid-December 2020, the second wellness hostel worldwide was opened in Laax. Unfortunately, the restaurant and wellness facilities and indoor pool have yet to be opened to external guests. Nevertheless, we have already been able to accommodate many satisfied and happy guests. The start was a great success.

Le Bémont Youth Hostel closed its doors for good on 24 October 2020 after 56 years. Unfortunately, the required investment for safety and maintaining the substance of the facility was no longer financially viable.

Due to the impact of the COVID pandemic, the 53rd World Conference of Hostelling International was conducted digitally. Stephan Kurmann, former President of the SYH, was elected as new President with 61 of the 100 votes. He has served as Vice President of the worldwide network of youth hostel associations since September 2016.

Youth Hostel Lausanne

Lausanne Youth Hostel

“Switzerland’s Best Employer 2021”: The Swiss Youth Hostels Association is one of them! As we found out on 25 November 2020. Die Handelszeitung, Le Temps and the independent market research institute Statista ascertained this in a large-scale panel survey of thousands of workers. The Swiss Youth Hostels reached 2nd place in the Gastronomy, Tourism, Accommodation, Entertainment and Leisure sectors. We are proud and grateful to have received this award.

This year’s business report comes with a new look. A short print version provides a quick overview of important key data from reporting year 2020 and refers interested parties to the detailed digital report. This offers interesting insights from the past business year. The outlook also appears good, even if it remains uncertain in these extraordinary times.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all our employees, the honorary Executive Board members, the Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism, our members and benefactors and our partners for their wonderful support.

End of March 2021

Frank Reutlinger
President SJH

Janine Bunte