The roadshow, which also takes in Jeddah and Kuwait, has been organised by Switzerland Tourism, the international marketing arm of the federal tourism authority, which has identified the GCC as one of its top five emerging markets.
According to Federico Sommaruga, director of Switzerland Tourism for the GCC, India and Russia, expectations for 2005 are optimistic given the emphasis on the Far East during the past three years.
“It’s well known that residents from the United Arab Emirates have a special affinity with the greenery and mountain scenery of Switzerland, and while many of them have holidayed in the Far East recently, the signs are that they will be travelling west in summer 2005,” he said.
Among the participants in the roadshow are regional tourist authorities, hotels and spas, plus the famed Swiss railway and Swiss International Airlines.
“While around half the 70,000 GCC visitors travel to Geneva as their preferred base in Switzerland, we are seeing greater numbers venturing farther afield to areas such as Crans Montana, Lucerne, Lausanne and St Mortiz, and we expect this trend to increase in 2005,” said Sommaruga.
“With 250,000 overnights last year, the GCC market is one of our top ranking markets, particularly given the daily average expenditure of CHF450 per person which is the highest of all.
“The GCC accounts for 1.4 per cent of all foreign visitors to Switzerland and is the 10th best source market, after Europe, the US and Japan.”
Sommaruga explained that the high exchange rate had restricted the increase in GCC tourist numbers during the past three years, but he expected a resumption of double-digit growth for 2005.
“We have a wide range of packages that are easily bookable through the travel trade, focusing of areas of interest to the local UAE market including family attractions, wellness, mountains and education and healthcare.”
Switzerland Tourism has also introduced a third tourist route for 2005 – Art & Architecture – following the initial two routes devoted to Luxus & Design and Gastronomy & Wine.
“These tourist routes offer comprehensive itineraries, suggesting sightseeing points, historical landmarks, trend and quality hotels and restaurants,” said Sommaruga. “In addition, we have a full schedule of festivals every summer covering topics from jazz and film to teddy bears.”
Participants in the roadshow include 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.
Tuesday, March 15- 2005 @ 11:04 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.