Transit Travel Through Switzerland Is Now Possible

The UK government has altered its advice after conversations with Swiss authorities which means skiers can use Geneva airport and others to access ski resorts in France and Italy. Preventing people from the UK using Geneva would have had a huge impact on the French ski industry. UPDATED

The announcement of a change in advice was made on Tuesday morning and is very welcome.

UK Government advice

UK Government advice

See here for the full details on the UK government web site.

The UK Ambassador to Berne, Switzerland has confirmed the details.

Reaction from the UK ski industry has been immediate.

“The Swiss have quickly realised that unilaterally shutting down international access to all surrounding nations’ ski areas was not well thought through,” said the CEO of SNO, Richard Sinclair.

“The damage is now limited to the travel industry within Swiss borders, but trust has been damaged in the their ability to make proportionate decisions, and it’s likely most European travel businesses and airlines will be looking at how they can move their operations away from Swiss airports for the remainder of this ski season and beyond,” he added.

Other people in the UK ski industry have been very angry with the initial decision by the Swiss authorities.

One said to us that “what is shocking to most, is that they might unilaterally announce this unthinking act of sabotage to the livelihoods of the entire region in the first place.”

Skiers and snowboarders have welcomed the news.

“I am due to be skiing in Les Menuires in under two weeks time and this has saved my holiday,” said PlanetSKI reader Jack Johnson on hearing the news of a change of heart by the Swiss authorities.

Another, Stephen Cuthbertson, said “Just seen the UK Government website. Looks positive and what a sight of relief!”

Another reader has told of us of his view based on experience of the weekend chaos.

“We are very pleased that the Swiss have sorted this out for everyone transmitting via Geneva but we are absolutely raging that we were refused entry in Geneva on Sunday and sent back to the UK. We await a response from the Swiss embassy in London.”

Many of the major resorts in France rely on UK skiers and snowboarders arriving via Geneva airport.

“We’re relieved that British skiers can still make it out to the Alps via Geneva this winter,” said Sara Burdon from the Morzine tourist office.

“We’ve been getting incredible numbers of calls and messages about it and holidaymakers seem relieved to know that transitis now OK.

“At just over an hour from the Porets du Soleil Geneva airport is an important hub for us with huge amounts of skiers passing through in the winter.

“The snow is now here, and we’re ready to open very soon.”

Image c/o Office de Tourisme de Morzine-Avoriaz

Morzine, France. Image c/o Office de Tourisme de Morzine-Avoriaz

It has been a confusing few days after Switzerland ordered that all people coming from the UK needed a negative test result and to go into quarantine for 10-days.

At one stage the Federal Office for Public Health said they were banned altogehter, but that statement was then retracted.

It has had an obvious and direct impact on ski holidays in Switzerland, but many people use Geneva airport to access resorts in France, and to a lesser extent Italy.

Over the weekend and into Monday the  UK government web site stated that travellers from the UK must isolate “including if transiting through Switzerland to another country.”

That has now changed.

Over the weekend people flying from the UK to head to other countries were turned back.

We reported on it here:

Some travellers who arrived at Geneva airport from the UK on Sunday were turned away and had to return to the UK.

“We flew to Geneva yesterday morning, had a pre-booked transfer by road to Italy,” said one PlanetSKI reader on our Facebook page on Monday.

“We were refused entry by Swiss border and put on a plane back to Manchester immediately. UK Govt website and FCDO advice was only corrected in the afternoon.”

Others were unable to board Swiss-bound flights in the UK.

One of our readers has spoken to the Federal Office of Public Health and was told that it was possible to travel through Geneva to France and all people needed to do was download and complete an entry form.

You can find the form here.

Entry to Switzerland is regulated by two separate government departments: the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH).

The SEM does not decide quarantine rules, but does decide who can and cannot enter the country.

The FOPH does not decide who can  enter, but it does decide whether quarantine rules apply, and other matters such as testing.

Switzerland has had three confirmed cases of the omicron variant.

One is a 19-year-old who is fully vaccinated with no recent history of travel.

New infections rose to 10,466 in the past 24-hours.

Hospitals in Zurich now report that every bed is taken.

Switzerland’s other cities are under similar pressure and intensive care beds are more than 80% full.

We endeavor to ensure the information provided here is as complete and up-to-date as possible. However, please be aware that we assume no liability in this respect. Information provided by PlanetSKI should be checked with the official information provided by the authorities. The situation regarding travel warnings and local rules changes quickly.

Image © PlanetSKI