More than 400 consumers from 50 international locations and 350 Swiss suppliers gathered in Davos for Switzerland Travel Mart, the largest turnout the occasion has seen up to now.

For North America’s delegation, this system kicked off with a two-day pre-tour in Basel. There, on the metropolis’s historic Teufelhof resort, Basel Tourism Vice Director and Head of Marketing, Christoph Bosshardt supplied perception into the Swiss metropolis’s attraction. First, he mentioned, is its proximity to neighboring France and Germany, making motion between international locations simple. Secondly, Basel is wealthy in tradition, historical past, and structure; it is residence to 40 museums, and constructions by 12 Pritzker-winning architects. Finally, he mentioned, is the sheer comfort that comes with a go to to the town of fewer than 200,000 residents.

“It’s very simple to get to Basel—Zurich’s airport is a bit more than one hour switch [by train],” he mentioned, including that Basel can be accessible by way of worldwide prepare stations in France, Germany, and past. As of subsequent January, getting across the already user-friendly metropolis will probably be much more handy. Beginning then, mentioned Bosshardt, “Everybody staying in Basel for the night time—whether or not in a resort, hostel, or B&B—will get a free Basel Guest Card, which incorporates not solely public transport, but in addition free entry to Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere in the metropolis and 50 p.c reductions on admission to museums, the zoo, and guided excursions. I believe it will make Basel much more engaging as a stopover.”

Bosshardt defined that Basel can be a significant port for Rhine River cruises, with cruise strains akin to Viking, Avalon Waterways, and Scenic bringing in passengers from North America.

Alex Herrmann, Switzerland Tourism‘s North America director, supplied statistical proof of Basel’s rising reputation, noting a rise in enterprise from North American vacationers particularly. Between January and June 2017, in a single day stays amongst North Americans have been up 10 p.c over the identical time interval in 2016. Arrivals elevated by 11.9 p.c. June, July, and September see the best quantity of North American vacationers, he mentioned.

As for what’s driving Switzerland’s reputation as an entire, Herrmann mentioned, “Switzerland has an answer to any travel trend out there,” from river cruising to metropolis breaks to climbing and biking. Food and wine are different vital components. “Swiss wines are hard to get anywhere else,” Herrmann mentioned. “Only two percent of them are exported.”

Photo by Switzerland Tourism

Herrmann defined that, in terms of how guests choose to discover Switzerland, touring is more and more fashionable, particularly by prepare. By buying a Swiss Travel Pass, guests can experience the nation’s huge rail system, buses, ferries, and different modes of public transportation on a single ticket, and obtain discounted admission to dozens of web sites and points of interest. A cell app by SBB—the Swiss transportation system—makes discovering timetables and planning routes a easy process. To boot, vacationers can make the most of Switzerland’s door-to-door baggage service, which permits them to ship baggage from North America to their vacation spot in Switzerland, or from one prepare station or resort to a different.

Driving and bike excursions are rising in reputation, too, mentioned Herrmann. Since its current launch, a grand tour—comprising 1,000 miles of a few of Switzerland’s most scenic roadways, together with by means of Lake Geneva’s wine rising area—has already develop into fashionable, although driving excursions have not beforehand been talked about a lot within the context of visiting Switzerland, he added. The tour is good for electrical vehicles, with greater than 300 charging stations alongside the route. “It’s a sustainable way to see Switzerland,” Herrmann mentioned. He added that climbing and biking will probably be a significant focus of selling tourism to Switzerland in 2018.

With journey to Switzerland trending towards particular person journey and away from mass tourism, Herrmann mentioned that Switzerland’s tourism group strongly believes within the journey commerce. “That’s why we have now a variety of applications for journey brokers, why we go to you with our Swiss companions, and why we produce our ‘Yodel‘ gross sales guide,” which has been distributed in publications together with Luxury Travel Advisor. “We also launched a new e-learning program, mostly for travel advisors,” Herman continued. With totally different modules to select from, “It’s a great way to learn a lot about Switzerland in a short amount of time.”

With the Basel pre-tour full, the delegation then traveled by prepare to Davos, the place Switzerland Travel Mart formally kicked off at Vaillant Arena, residence of the town’s nationally celebrated Hockey Club Davos. There, Switzerland Tourism Director Jürg Schmid requested his worldwide viewers: Why do folks journey?

“Some people choose a destination because it’s a bargain,” he mentioned. “That’s not Switzerland’s marketplace. More and more, people want to discover, to learn, to experience a country, its culture, its people. They’re looking for inspiration.”

That craving for experiential journey is a countertrend to globalization, he added. “Slow tourism is the growth market of the future. This is precisely the market where tour operators and travel agents are needed more than ever.”

Schmid went on to clarify that the 400-plus consumers in attendance at STM are essential enterprise companions for Switzerland. “On a worldwide basis, they represent revenue of $25 billion,” he mentioned. “For Switzerland, they represent roughly a billion dollars of yearly income revenue to our tourism sector. In Switzerland, roughly one-third of the hotel overnights are generated through the indirect channels; this demonstrates that it’s an important part of Switzerland’s business.”

When it involves the U.S. market, he mentioned, for seven years in a row its enterprise has grown at a fee of four to eight p.c.

Schmid went on to say that Switzerland is the right expertise platform. “It’s small—the distance from east to west is just 348 kilometers, and from north to south just 220. It may be small, but it’s enormously diverse,” he continued, referencing the 4 cultures and languages (French, Italian, German, and Romansch) discovered inside its borders. “This means that you need only travel for two hours to experience another culture, another gastronomy, another history. And the landscape is constantly changing, from glaciers to palm trees, and from mountain peaks to urban city centers.” 

Schmid then launched Maurus Lauber, CEO of Swiss Travel System, who defined that gross sales of STS tickets have rocketed up 86 p.c since 2010. Business from the North American market alone went up 27.eight p.c by means of the top of July. Lauber mentioned the numbers are proof that American guests to Switzerland love rail journey, for its panoramic expertise, comfort, accessibility, its “Swissness,” and its variety. In Switzerland, greater than 250 corporations present modes of public transportation, from trains to boats to buses to cable vehicles.

In closing his presentation, Switzerland Tourism Director Jürg Schmid defined that, as a small nation, Switzerland is not ready for mass tourism, nor does it need to be.

“This will not be a man-made Disney World,” he mentioned. “This is why we don’t promote group travel anymore in Switzerland. We are a quality destination. We’re not a low-cost destination, we never will be, and we don’t want to be. We believe being low-cost is not an achievement. We want to go for quality, and this means experiential, individual travel.”

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Growth and a Grand Tour at Switzerland Travel Mart 2017 by: Farah Grimm published:

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