Euro 2008 to showcase hidden Swiss strengths
Switzerland plans to use the 2008 European football championships to show off some of its lesser-known strong points.
These include high-quality Swiss research, education and innovation, and first-class transport and sport infrastructure, Sport Minister Samuel Schmid told a Switzerland Tourism symposium in Basel on Wednesday.
"The Swiss brand is definitely a strong one," said Schmid. "With a branded identity there is the danger of creating stereotypes. But with Euro 2008 we can highlight some lesser-known strengths."
Schmid said emphasis should be put on "typical Swiss virtues" such as punctuality, reliability, cleanliness and correctness. And a fair price policy was self-evident.
Jörg Krebs, head of location marketing for Switzerland in Euro 2008, told swissinfo that it was very important to look at how the national image is marketed.
"If you look abroad, most of the time people think Switzerland is a boring country and that the people are also a little bit boring. We want to show that when you come here you can party, and the people are open and helpful," he said.
With more or less 400 days until kick-off, there is still plenty of work still to do.
The sport minister described the long road to the opening match as a steep mountain track with unknown twists.
"But I am convinced that we will manage to round the bends – all of them," he said.
The organisers have been able to learn a great deal from last year's World Cup in Germany.
"[The German campaign] was very helpful for us because it was like a case study right next door. We have all been able to learn a lot from it, but I think we are ready - I am looking forward to it [Euro 2008]," said Krebs.
"Germany is almost an idol for us. But you can't compare it – Germany is ten times the size of Switzerland and there were a lot more people involved."
Switzerland Tourism, meanwhile, plans to launch a training programme for tourism professionals in January ahead of the tournament.
Under the slogan "We want to be perfect hosts", it hopes to help improve the welcome and service for football fans and tourists during the three-week-long event. A handbook with guidelines will be distributed to volunteers.
swissinfo with agencies
15 of the 31 Euro 2008 matches will be played in Switzerland and 16 in Austria.
Switzerland will play the opening match of the tournament at Basel's St Jakob's Park on June 7, 2008.
The final will be in Vienna on June 29.
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