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Switzerland woos Middle East tourists

United Arab Emirates: Thursday, March 25 - 2004 @ 09:25

A 20-strong delegation from Switzerland Tourism and its local partners will make a 10-day series of presentations across five Gulf cities at the end of March, reaching the travel industry, media and VIPs.

The group represents a cross-section of the Alpine country’s holiday resorts, hotel chains, and hospitality businesses.

They will visit Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, and Jeddah between March 27 and April 5 to highlight Switzerland’s attractions as a holiday destination.

The snow and the mountains are already a major drawcard for Middle East tourists, with numbers almost doubling since 1999. Then, Switzerland numbered 150,000 overnights from residents of the Gulf countries – a figure expected to top 300,000 by the end of 2004, up 15 per cent on last year.

With special visa arrangements in place – a European Union Schengen or Swiss visa is all that is needed by GCC visitors even although Switzerland is not an EU member – tourists from the Gulf do not have to cope with daunting bureaucratic requirements to gain entry.

Tawfik Melli, Switzerland Tourism’s representative for the GCC says that the mountainous scenery and dramatic lakes are a natural attraction for tourists from a largely desert environment:

“It’s such a visual change – even for travellers from other European countries – that it’s little wonder Arab visitors find Switzerland so appealing.

“And there are so many facets to Switzerland, it’s like visiting four or five different countries in one. Superb hotels, world-famous catering skills, endlessly fascinating scenery, and a highly efficient road and rail network all combine to make Switzerland one of the most abidingly-popular tourism destinations.”

The travelling roadshow, mounted in conjunction with Swiss International Airlines, will highlight all of Switzerland’s attractions, followed by workshop sessions when the delegates will meet individually with members of the Middle East travel industry to present their products.

VIP receptions will be held at Swiss embassies to meet top-level leaders in each country.

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Thursday, March 25- 2004 @ 9:25 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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