Representatives from Switzerland Tourism, the Lufthansa Group, Air Canada, Rail Europe, Bern Welcome and Ticino Tourism entertained a select group of travel agents and media at the Granville Island Hotel on April 12 to share record-breaking Canadian numbers, news and a bit of Swiss chocolate.
“We are committed to the Canadian market and pleased to see a new record with the best overnight results in 25 years,” said Pascal Prinz, Director Canada for Switzerland Tourism, in an interview with PAXnewsWest.
The latest figures show an increase of 11.2 per cent in Canadian arrivals in Switzerland in 2017, for a total of 115,180. According to final figures, the number of overnight stays was 247,764; an increase of 9.1 per cent compared to 2016.
The most popular destinations were the Zurich Region with 68,837 overnights, followed by Geneva Region with 48,457 and the Valais Region with 23,219. With 5,782 more overnights in 2017, the Zurich Region recorded the biggest growth in Canadian visits.
New Trade Initiatives
“We believe in the travel trade”, continued Prinz.
Bolstering that belief is the creation of a brand new Switzerland Travel Academy. The program allows agents to choose the modules they want to study – nature, skiing, gastronomy, biking, hiking – depending upon their clientele, and earn a certificate and the designation of Switzerland Travel Expert. Completion of the program makes agents eligible for a Swiss Travel Pass for self-guided travel throughout the country.
Prinz also noted Tourism Switzerland’s Professional Service Centre. Agents can call, talk to a live agent and obtain recommendations for hotels, attractions and transportation.
Switzerland Tourism also hosts bi-weekly webinars that attract 80 to 100 agents who tune in to find regional information and product updates.
Air Canada flies Vancouver to Zurich, direct, between June 7 and Oct. 13, 2018. AC802 leaves Vancouver Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 12:55 p.m., landing in Zurich at 7:50 a.m. the next morning. AC803 departs Zurich Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. touching down in Vancouver at 10:50 a.m. the same day.
Edelweiss Air, part of the Lufthansa group, flies four times a week from Vancouver to Zurich and Calgary to Zurich three times a week between May and September.
Rail Europe’s Swiss Travel Pass is available throughout the country and comes in first and second class, for three to 15 days. The pass also includes entry into more then 500 Swiss museums and discounts on the Switzerland’s scenic trains. Children ride free and the pass also offers access to buses and boats as well as the trains.
New in Bern are swimming tours of the Aare River, which runs through the heart and soul of the city. The waters of the glacier-fed river are very clean (no tour boats are allowed on the river) and locals say you haven’t really seen the city until you’ve had a swim in the river. The e-bike was invented in this part of the country and the region of Emmental is opening a new 150-kilometre bike trail this month.
Ticino, in the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland combines the joys of Italian culture, like food and architecture, with the efficiency of the Swiss transportation system. The area attracts adventure travellers with canyoning and the Ticino Ticket offers free public transportation to anyone staying one night in a local hotel.