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Tourism industry sets out to sell Autumn in Switzerland

Director of Switzerland Tourism, Jürg Schmid, and star chef, Françoise Wicki , celebrate the arrival of Autumn Keystone

For the first time, Switzerland has launched a campaign to promote an event that happens only once a year, but every year. The national tourism organisation, Switzerland Tourism, is selling Autumn.

Overnight stays are up more than six per cent since the beginning of the year and Switzerland Tourism hopes to keep up the momentum through the traditionally slow months of September and October.

On Tuesday at Zurich’s main station, the director of Switzerland Tourism, Jürg Schmid, symbolically launched the campaign by unveiling a train engine freshly painted with Autumn leaves.

Schmid is trying to bolster Switzerland’s tourism industry, one of the most important sectors of the economy.

For the first time, he has managed to bring all of the country’s tourist regions together for such a promotion. He believes it is the key to satisfying visitors who, Schmid says, are becoming more demanding.

“Today’s guests prefer shorter but more frequent holidays. They want different experiences; to see an alpine lake on one day, and go shopping or take in an art exhibition on the next.”

He thinks Autumn attractions can increase overnight stays over the next two months by 2.5 per cent. “We want to make people realise that Autumn is a great time, it’s a time of great diversity,” he said.

The new campaign focuses on outdoor and cultural activities as well as fine dining. The promotions are as varied as the changing colours of the season. Free walking sticks, trail maps, large discounts on train passes and to museums, or free samples of the best cuisine the country has to offer.

To whet the media’s appetite, Schmid presented some culinary creations from star chef, Françoise Wicki. She’s proof that influences on Swiss cuisine no longer come only from neighbouring regions in France, Germany and Italy.

Wicki served pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed oil, and mincemeat rolls flavoured with bacon and rosemary.

“They’re all traditional Swiss foods,” Wicki explained. “Perhaps the ingredients are put together in a slightly more modern way. You can borrow ideas from any part of the world but you still have to put them together in a way that works in Switzerland.”

by Dale Bechtel

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