Switzerland continues to push Grand Tour

The scenic Grand Tour of Switzerland, dotted with picturesque lakes and 44 top attractions

Last year, Switzerland Tourism launched The Grand Tour of Switzerland, which combines the highlights of Switzerland with a beautifully scenic 1643 km route, dotted with lakes and greenery. The highlights include 44 top attractions, 11 of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites and two are biospheres.

'We are continuing to promote the Grand Tour of Switzerland this year as well,' Matthias Albrecht, director GCC, Switzerland Tourism, tells TTN. 'Last year, we had four partners, but this year, we have partnered with 10 tour operators and travel agents in the GCC to sell this product. They sell the tour and we invest in the promotional material.'

For four years in a row, Switzerland has seen more than 20 per cent growth in overnight stays from the GCC. 'We had 929,000 overnights in 2015. We have almost doubled this number since 2012. This year, we aim to reach one million overnights this year. The growth may not be 20 per cent every year, but there will be growth, that we are confident of. We have the product, we are a safe country.

Albrecht… confident of visitor growth this year

The Switzerland booth at the recently concluded ATM had 67 partners in attendance – the most partners ever for Switzerland at ATM – and they were all keen to welcome guests from the GCC and to make trade partners.

'The UAE and Saudi Arabia each represent about 36 per cent of the business covering 72 per cent between them, 14 per cent comes from Kuwait and 13 per cent from Qatar, and the rest is from Oman and Bahrain in terms of room nights in Switzerland. In terms of visitors too, the break up is almost the same.'

The average GCC visitor spends about CHF463 ($483) per person per day, Albrecht informs us. 'This is the highest spend for Switzerland globally. The Chinese come close with spending almost CHF400 per day but the best part about GCC nationals is that they spend on the tourism sector – hotels, restaurants and activities, while the Chinese spend it all on watches.'

The winter brochure this year will have even more hotels and destinations, promises the GCC director of Switzerland Tourism. 'The local Emirati market is ripe for winter tourism as we have seen some members of the royal family enjoying snow activities and we’re grateful for that because it will certainly encourage others to join.'