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Interest soars in Swiss tourism, say officials

United Arab Emirates: Wednesday, March 30 - 2005 @ 10:41

According to Federico Sommaruga, director of Switzerland Tourism for the GCC, India and Russia, the keen interest in the Swiss tourism product displayed by UAE travel agency representatives reinforced the early indications that Europe would revive as a summer destination for GCC travellers this year.

“We have been aware that many travellers were heading east rather than west over the past three years, but discussions with our travel industry counterparts during the roadshow have emphasised the desire for a change this year … and we aim to capitalise on this trend.”

While some 70,000 travellers from the GCC visited Switzerland in 2004, the level of growth has stabilised to a certain extent, Sommaruga said, and the roadshow had been conceived to kick-start a new phase of development in the GCC market.

“My colleagues from areas such as Lucerne, Crans Montana and St Mortiz now have a better understanding of the specific requirements of the Gulf market, while the hotels represented on the roadshow were delighted with the response to their product offerings such as spas and wellness centres.”

Sommaruga emphasised that Switzerland was essentially a family destination that provided both an unpolluted and scenic environment and a range of entertainments suitable for all ages.

“We have the largest covered water-park in Europe, for instance, while our hotels offer a menu of health and beauty options that runs to nearly 100 and range from colour therapy and grape marc treatment to Five Tibetans and hay treatments,” he said.

“We have ice biking, snow golf and ice sculpture in winter, as well as the traditional snow sports, and in summer there are festivals all around the country.”

Addressing the issue of exchange rates, Sommaruga said pricing issues were not seen as a major obstacle to growth by the UAE travel trade, who had underlined the value-for-money quality reputation of the Swiss marque: “Our major thrust now will be to continue the awareness drive to ensure UAE residents have a better idea of the full range of attractions that Switzerland offers.”

He added that the spectacular growth of Dubai tourism would also help to promote two-way traffic: “As Dubai continues its heady growth, we are seeing more air links between the emirate and Switzerland and this vital access has bilateral benefits for both destinations.”

Participants in the roadshow included representatives from Switzerland Tourism; Swiss International Airlines; Rail Europe-Swiss Travel System; Crans Montana; Geneva; InterContinental Zurich; Interlaken Tourism; Jungfraujoch; Kulm Hotel St Mortiz; Lausanne Palace & Spa; Lausanne Tourism; Le Mirador Kempinski; Lucerne; Manotel Hotels of Geneva; Montreux-Vevey; Movenpick Hotel & Casino Geneva; Raffles Montreux Palace; St Mortiz; Zermatt Matterhorn and Zurich Downtown.

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Wednesday, March 30- 2005 @ 10:41 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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