Will Indian film star Ranveer Singh help Switzerland shed its image as a “beautiful but boring” destination and attract young Indian tourists?
For decades, the Alpine nation has lured Indian tourists thanks to free publicity in the form of films that showcased its landscape in song and dance sequences. However, this trend is waning resulting in fewer young Indians being exposed to Switzerland. This could present a problem in the future considering that around 60% of Indian visitors to the country are under 35 years old, according to the Swiss Hotel Association.
The industry is hoping that Bollywood will again come to the rescue. It appointed 31-year-old actor Ranveer Singh as a brand ambassador last November. Claudio Zemp, the head of Switzerland Tourism India, says that Singh was chosen for his “versatile, energetic and adventurous personality”. Having more than four million Twitter followers also doesn’t hurt.
During his visit to Switzerland, Singh tweeted images and videos of himself wakeboarding on Lake Zurich, tobogganing on Mount Pilatus, and paragliding and skydiving in Interlaken. It was quite a departure from the standard organised tour itinerary of taking a mountain railway train to Mount Titlis or Jungfrau, posing for pictures against a snowy backdrop, and eating “home food” at an Indian restaurant. The goal is to appeal to a younger generation of Indian tourists who don’t really want to go on a package tour of Swiss lakes and mountains but are seeking thrills and nightlife instead.
How much was the star paid for the promotion campaign? Switzerland Tourism is remaining tight-lipped.
“We have mutually agreed not to disclose any details regarding our agreement,” Véronique Kanel, spokesperson for Switzerland Tourism, told swissinfo.ch. However, she said “travel expenses make up the most important part of the costs”.
Sangam, released in 1964, was the first Indian film shot in Switzerland. Later, the 1967 film Evening in Paris first used the Alps as a backdrop for singing, dancing and romancing. However, it would be a few more decades before Switzerland burst into the Indian consciousness, following the release of the Bollywood film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in 1995, which featured superstar Shah Rukh Khan as a love-struck Romeo trying to win his lady love Kajol's heart in the midst of breathtaking Swiss scenery.
Many other films subsequently incorporated Switzerland as a backdrop cementing the Alpine nation’s place as a must-visit on any European tour aimed at Indian travellers.