Switzerland is fast becoming a nation of campers, as a new AutoScout24 study shows. There are 99 motorhomes for every 10,000 residents – eight more vehicles than Germany and ten more than Austria. Rural cantons top the motorhome density ranking, with urban cantons such as Basel-Stadt and Geneva bringing up the rear. Search behaviour on the online marketplace for new and second-hand vehicles also substantiates this trend: vans such as the VW T6, for example, are extremely popular camping vehicles among the Swiss. Caravanning continues to be a more affordable holiday alternative, even though the prices of camping vehicles have risen significantly over the past three years.
The number of motorhomes is constantly growing in Switzerland. In 2022, over 87,400 motorhomes were registered in Switzerland – twice the number of vehicles than 10 years before. This caravanning and camping holiday trend looks set to continue. Switzerland recorded more than 3.2 million overnight campsite stays by residents in 2022. This is 28% more overnight stays than in 2019, the year before Covid-19 restrictions. Touring Club Suisse (TCS) also sees this increased interest in camping as a long-term trend. Massimo Gonnella, TCS Media Spokesperson: ‘During high season between June and mid-August, our sites are between 95 and 100% full. Since the pandemic, we’ve noticed that holiday planning habits have changed somewhat. People are booking their campsites earlier than before. In the coming years, we aim to continuously expand our campsite portfolio. We’re already planning several projects, such as a new campsite in Flims and three in Ticino, for example.’
Motorhome density in Switzerland: rural cantons top the ranking
In terms of vehicle density, there are 99 motorhomes for every 10,000 residents in Switzerland – first place within the DACH nations. Northern neighbour, Germany, has 91 camping vehicles for every 10,000 residents, while Austria has 89. If we calculate motorhome density for every 10,000 people by canton, we see that there are more camping vehicles in rural cantons than in urban cantons. The twin half-cantons of Obwalden (163 motorhomes) and Nidwalden (157 motorhomes) and the half-canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden (144 motorhomes) top the ranking. Meanwhile, the cantons of Ticino (56 motorhomes), Basel-Stadt (54 motorhomes) and Geneva (40 motorhomes) languish at the bottom of the ranking.
The Swiss love vans
The growing popularity of camping vehicles can also be seen on AutoScout24. In the first six months of 2020 there was a total of 5,940 camping vehicles advertised on AutoScout24, rising to 8,560 in the first half of 2023 – a 44% increase in three years. A closer look at the figures for the past six months reveals that the cantons of Zurich, Bern and Thurgau recorded the largest selection of camping vehicles. As you can imagine, it’s not so easy to find the right camping vehicle from the wealth of options on offer. Peoples’ preferences are as individual and varied as the search for a suitable holiday. The AutoScout24 analysis reveals that what German speakers call ‘Bullis’ – smaller window vans with camping equipment – are the most popular model type. The VW T6 and its successor the VW T6.1 have been the most sought-after camping vehicle on AutoScout24 for years. Next in the search ranking are the Marco Polo model from Mercedes-Benz, the VW T5 and the Fiat Ducato.
Camping vehicles up to 27% more expensive
Anyone wanting to fulfil their dream of buying their own camping vehicle will have to dig a little deeper these days. In particular it was the Covid-19 pandemic – when demand for camping vehicles soared – that drove up prices. A comparison of the average price of various vehicle types in the first six months of 2023 and the first half of 2020 reveals price increases of 27% for alcove vans (vehicles with a sleeping area above the driver’s cab), panel vans and motorhomes. In the past six months, the average price was CHF 59,579 for alcove vans, CHF 67,178 for panel vans and CHF 33,643 for motorhomes. There was a price rise of 22% in the window van category, meaning that buyers had to fork out an average of CHF 58,645 in the first six months of 2023. ‘We’re currently noticing that many dealers are fully stocked. Along with pricing and inventory indicators, inflationary conditions point to customer waiting lists and a slightly overheated market. We may well see an initial price adjustment in the next quarter,’ says Maurice Acker, Director Business Customers at AutoScout24, commenting on the trends in the camping market.
Supply data and search queries on AutoScout24 in the motorhome/caravan category were examined for 2020, 2021, 2022 and the first six months of 2023. The search query numbers only highlight search behaviour on desktop versions and exclude activity on app versions, although user behaviour patterns and trends on the AutoScout24 app are identical. The price analysis only considered the alcove van, window van, panel van and motorhome vehicle categories and compared their average prices for the first six months of 2023 with those for the first six months of 2020.