We ask Jason Tarabo, Rail Europe’s regional manager for Middle East & South Africa, for more details. “The Swiss Travel Pass SuperStar Program works on a points system with agents to complete a monthly module, with a focus on travel within Switzerland. In fact, sales of all Swiss Travel System products also receive points, so agents simply upload their sales onto the platform and we collate the points.
“Some lucky agents with the most points are invited on the annual Swiss Pass SuperStar fam trip, where we treat them to the very best that Switzerland has to offer. For those who don’t make the trip, we have additional monthly prizes and some great consolation prizes such as iPads, noise cancelling headphones, etc.
“This year, for the first time, if an agent simply completes the modules, they will receive a Dh100 voucher for a store of their choice”
– Jason Tarabo
“This year, for the first time, if an agent simply completes the modules they will receive a Dh100 voucher for a store of their choice, which means that everybody wins with the Swiss Pass SuperStar Program in 2019.”
The Swiss Travel Pass SuperStar Program has seen continued growth over the years and is now embedded in the yearly schedules of retail agents and Rail Europe’s distribution network. In fact, it is seen as one of the most popular, prestigious and rewarding educational and travel selling programmes in the UAE, says Tarabo.
The Glacier Express remains the most popular scenic train in Switzerland, however, if you speak to the Swiss and ask them what the most scenic train is, most will say the Bernina Express, he reveals. “This journey can often be overlooked as it is a bit off-the-beaten track, but those who make the effort will be rewarded. Crossing the Alps in the Bernina Express certainly is one of the most spectacular ways to do it.”
Along the way, the Bernina Express rolls Hollywood-style over the 65-metre-high Landwasser Viaduct, the signature structure of the Rhaetian Railway and the Unesco World Heritage site. Altogether the train passes through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges on its way from Chur to Tirano. Travellers are treated to marvellous sights during their journey, like the Montebello curve with a view of the Bernina massif, the Morteratsch glacier, the three lakes Lej Pitschen, Lej Nair and Lago Bianco, the Alp Grüm and the Brusio Circular Viaduct. In summer, the journey can be extended from Tirano to Lugano aboard the Bernina Express Bus.
“Fresh mountain air and stunning views from the Albula and Bernina rail lines: in the summer, open panorama coaches are available on the Bernina Express between Davos Platz and Tirano. The glass-free Cabrio coaches bring you closer to nature.”
In December 2018, The Glacier Express, introduced an all new ‘Excellence Class’, and a rail journey through the Swiss Alps has never been so luxurious. With guaranteed window seats, an exclusive bar, on-board entertainment, a concierge service and personal travel guides, the Glacier Express Excellence Class is setting new standards. The journey between St. Moritz and Zermatt is a feast for the senses: while the spectacular landscape passes by outside, guests are served champagne and amuse-bouches – followed by an exquisite five-course meal with accompanying wine.
With this new service, the Glacier Express offers one of the most exclusive rolling touristic highlights in Switzerland.
“Also, we offer luggage services within Switzerland so if you have clients travelling with lots of luggage, no problem, we can take care of it! The service option “Express door to door luggage” offers maximum convenience. The luggage may be handed over at the hotel in the morning and is waiting for you at the destination hotel in the evening the very same day. This service is provided at 20 Swiss tourism hotspots.”
Some trains in Switzerland also have a dedicated mini playgroup where children can play.
Of course, rail travel is also equally popular outside of Switzerland in Europe, where Eurostar, the high-speed service connecting London to Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam has over an 80 per cent market share locally, which proves that Europeans think rail first and other modes of transport second. “This can be a surprise to some first-time visitors to Europe, as rail travel may not be as convenient or even an option in their home country.”
As a general rule if the train duration is 4.5hrs or less it will be quicker to take the train than to fly, when you factor in travel from city centre to the airport, check-in times, flight duration, waiting for luggage to arrive and travel from destination airport to city centre.
“Also, the costs associated with this can be prohibitive, plus from a productivity standpoint you will not have the chance to get much done as you are always on the move.
“In Europe, train stations are generally located in the middle of the city so travelling by train offers city centre to city centre connections.”
Al Tayer, Al Rostamani, Dnata, Orient Travel, ITS and Apollo Flight Centre are some of Rail Europe’s local GSAs. Visit https://agents.raileurope-gcc.com for more.
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