Swiss tourism sees rosy future ahead

Switzerland Tourism director, Jürg Schmid, is upbeat about the industry's prospects

Swiss tourism operators say they are confident that steady growth in the industry will continue next year. This view is supported by travel operators, who say aggressive marketing and more competitive prices have given Switzerland an edge.

This content was published on November 14, 2000 minutes

Tourism operators gave their upbeat message at one of the world's largest trade fairs, the World Travel Market (WTM) in London.

The event is an opportunity for Switzerland's tourism officials to present packages they think will be attractive to large British and other international tour operators.

The director of Switzerland Tourism, Jürg Schmid, told swissinfo on Tuesday that an increase in overnight stays during the usually slow autumn period showed that his organisation was on the right track.

"In September, we had an increase of over six per cent, which was the highest since 1980. So I would say it was a real success, we had very positive feedback."

Schmid is also convinced that Switzerland will continue to be competitive in winter, despite evidence that more Europeans are bypassing the Alps in favour of sunnier climes.

"We've done a survey of the United States market and found that it's cheaper for someone in the US to go skiing in Switzerland than at an American resort, even taking the cost of the flight into account," explains Schmid.

American tour operators are facing stiff competition for space in Swiss hotels from their competitors in Asia, thanks in part to the region's economic recovery. "We struggled to find rooms in Switzerland for our tours this past summer, says Judith McNickle of Miki Travel - a large Japanese company.

Ajay Jaipuria of "Travel Oytser India" says Switzerland is one of the few European countries of interest to Indian tourists. "The other alpine countries are not promoting themselves as aggressively as Switzerland," he says.

"You really have to push hard to successfully promote a destination; to make people aware of that destination."

Jaipuria adds that his customer base for Switzerland is increasing 10-fold every year.

Switzerland has a much harder sell closer to home, chiefly because of price.

"Price is always an issue," says John Bennett of Osprey Holidays. "Every travel market in the world is price-driven nowadays and a difference of £5 will sell or not sell a holiday."

by Dale Bechtel

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