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Chinese tourism survey

Towns, resorts and mountain railway and cable car companies across the country expect to see an increase in revenue because of Approved Destination Status.

But to capitalise on the Chinese market, regions and resorts will likely have to invest in infrastructure and become a little more hospitable.

Lucerne, which has for many years geared itself towards the Asian market, is along with the nearby cable and mountain railway companies, including Titlis, hoping to benefit most from visiting Chinese tour groups.

Lucerne will face tough competition from the tourist mecca of Interlaken, with its large hotels and vast network of mountain railways.

Swiss cities are also taking part in the Switzerland Tourism marketing campaign in China, aware that shopping is as important as seeing the mountains for the Chinese.

Investing for the first time in the Chinese and Asian market is the Italian-speaking southern canton of Ticino, led by its main city, Lugano.

Ticino

Ticino has been hit harder than most by the slump in tourism over the past few years.

“In addition to the promotions organised by Switzerland Tourism, Lugano has entered into bilateral relationships with Chinese cities,” Marco Sorgesa, head of Lugano tourism told swissinfo.

“We have already had three visits by Chinese officials and in October a Lugano delegation will go to China to present our tourism and banking sectors, and our university.”

In Graubünden, where tourism plays a paramount role, it is surprising that only the resorts of Davos and St Moritz (see main article), and the Rhaetian Railway are getting involved.

Overseas potential

“Because of the stagnating numbers [from Germany and Switzerland] Graubünden Tourism and various resorts and companies are attempting to enter overseas markets with high growth potential,” said Gieri Spescha of Graubünden Tourism.

However, he adds that because of “the few who come to our region from China, no preparations are being made”.

In eastern Appenzell, considered one of the most traditional Swiss regions, the tourist office is expecting only a small increase in Chinese visitors.

“We need to concentrate our efforts on attracting tourists from near not far,” said Piotr Caviezel of Appenzell tourism.

“The important markets for us are German-speaking Switzerland, especially northeastern Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, southern Germany, in particular around Lake Constance, and the Benelux countries,” Caviezel added.

Missing infrastructure

Regions and resorts prepared to market themselves in China will also need to invest in infrastructure and hospitality skills if they are to be successful.

“Being made to feel welcome is a central part of Chinese culture,” Sinologist, Josef Mondl, told swissinfo.

“And so Chinese visitors will expect the same of their Swiss hosts. Guests should be held in high esteem which is only possible if one has a basic understanding of the situation in China.”

Mondl manages a Sino-Swiss management-training programme at St Gallen University. The Chinese taking part in the course are put up in a hotel, which has equipped itself for guests from the Far East.

The hotel has hired Chinese-speaking personnel, placed kettles for making tea in the rooms, offers Chinese dishes for breakfast and has set up the room televisions to receive Chinese programmes.

swissinfo, Dale Bechtel

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