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visiting Switzerland New Swiss tourism boss targets Alpine cyclists and non-skiers

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Martin Nydegger, left, is the new head of Switzerland Tourism.

(Keystone)

New head of Switzerland Tourism Martin Nydegger expects hotel bookings to rise by 4% this winter season, owing to abundant snow. In an interview with Sonntagszeiting and Le Matin Dimanche newspapers, he also talks about priorities for 2018.

Nydegger took over on January 1 from Jürg Schmid, who had headed the organizationexternal link for 18 years. He says he is planning some changes, but not a big shakeup.

“Switzerland Tourism needs to develop more products and not be content with the existing ones,” he says. For example, the organization wants to attract foreign ski debutants with an inclusive “First Ski Experience” package (equipment, lift passes, instructor).

He says the sector does not plan to raise prices as it is enjoying the favourable effects of a stronger Euro against the Swiss franc. “That would not be very smart,” Nydegger told the newspapers. “Prices have been coming down. And we have learned lessons from the perceptions that Switzerland is too expensive.”

Nydegger’s plans for 2018 include a summer initiative for cyclists called “Ride the Alps”, during which certain passes in the Swiss Alps will be closed some days for all but cyclists.

He also says Swiss Tourism must take on board the importance of rental platform Airbnb, which is “not just an urban phenomenon” in Switzerland. However, he said Airbnb “must play by the rules like all other competitors, including when it comes to taxes, police, fire and health regulations”.

+ Read more about Swiss authorities’ pressure on Airbnb

“I am in close touch with Airbnb and I sense a real will on their part to conform with the current rules,” the new Switzerland Tourism boss said.   

Asked whether US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos would really bring in the CHF20 million predicted by experts, he said he is “almost certain”. “It is not due just to Trump but to all the elite guests,” Nydegger continued. “The images of our snowy landscape have gone all round the world, and that’s worth its weight in gold.”

SDA-ATS/jc

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