The Swiss Federal Railways' tour operator has been awarded this year's top tourism prize, the Milestone, for its contribution to the industry.This content was published on November 8, 2005 - 21:47
Also receiving awards was the Jungfrau Railways for its efforts to encourage more families to ski and a hotel management school for its unique approach to increase enrolment.
At a ceremony in Bern on Tuesday, RailAway walked away with the Milestone for "most outstanding project", along with SFr10,000 ($7,600).
RailAway was commended for offering attractive travel packages, which combine rail tickets with entrance to a wide variety of attractions in Switzerland.
The jury noted that the Railways' subsidiary had doubled its turnover in its first five years.
"RailAway" has not only filled empty seats in the trains and the coffers of the Railways but provides a worthy service," said Jean-Daniel Gerber, director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, presenting the award.
"The company has made travel possible for a broad public with its affordable packages ... and creates employment and higher turnover in the four corners of the country," he said, adding that it did so while promoting an environmentally friendly means of transport.
The second prize in the outstanding project category was shared by the Jungfrau Railways for its "Kids ski for free on Saturdays" promotion and the Swiss hotel management school in Lucerne.
There has been a five per cent drop in the number of Swiss skiers in the past five years and the Jungfrau Railways was cited for its efforts to reverse the trend.
The hotel school was lauded for its successful partnership with German-language television. The school allowed a television crew to enter its classrooms to produce a seven-part documentary.
The series proved to be extremely popular, with an average 400,000 viewers tuning in each Sunday.
"The series was not only well made but was worth its weight in gold for the image of our industry," said Guglielmo Brentel, president of the Swiss hotel association, Hotelleriesuisse.
His comments referred to the bad press the Swiss hotel industry has often received over the past few years. Hotels in general have been criticised for offering poor value.
"A broad public was shown in an entertaining way the human side of the hotel business, and that it is about more than just selling food, drink and rooms," he added.
A special prize and SFr3,000 went to a couple offering mountain trekking tours with "pack goats".
The couple were praised for proving that turning an innovative idea into a business venture need not be expensive.
The annual Milestone prize is designed to promote innovation and increase competitiveness in the Swiss tourist industry.
It is sponsored by the Swiss Hotel Association, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Swiss Tourism Federation.
It was first awarded in 2000.
The tour operator, RailAway, won first prize and SFr10,000 as the "outstanding project" in 2005.
Second prize was shared by the Jungfrau Railways and the Swiss Hotel Management School in Lucerne. Each was awarded SFr5,000.
The trekking company "Packgeiss" (pack goats) won SFr3,000 in the "special" category, normally awarded to small, original and witty travel ventures.
The director of tourism in canton Vaud, Charles André Ramseier, was cited for his lifetime achievement, and the tourist director of Einsiedeln, Urs Raschle, was singled out in the best young talent category.
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