Although Switzerland is in the middle of a period of steady growth in tourism from overseas markets – including Canada – the European country is consciously not appealing to the masses, reports assistant editor, Ann Ruppenstein in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.
“In Europe there’s a new buzzword — overtourism — this is a hot topic here,” Jürg Schmid, the CEO of Switzerland Tourism said at the recent Switzerland Travel Mart held in Davos, Switzerland. “It’s a serious challenge and if you don’t feel comfortable any more to live in your own city, if people start to leave the city, at the end of the day you start to leave tourism because tourism needs the population and interaction with the [local] people.”
Positioned as an alternative to overtourism, the destination is highlighting authentic experiences that await travellers, from scenic hikes to active adventures, as part of an ongoing campaign called “Nature wants you back.”
“This shift from group travel — we call is mass tourism — to individual travel is one of the most amazing and fundamental shifts we see… Switzerland is a small country. We’re not prepared for masses. We will definitely not prepare for overtourism, we don’t want to be. This is why we decided we won’t promote group travel anymore in Switzerland,” he said, noting they are targeting small to mid-size groups, as well as individual travellers. “We are a quality destination, we want to be, and this is what all our efforts go in to and we believe this is what Switzerland is.”
Citing an ongoing trend for travellers seeking authentic and experiential experiences while in Switzerland, not to mention a significant portion of inbound overseas bookings coming from the trade, he said travel agents and tour operators are as important as ever.
“In Switzerland roughly one third of the hotel overnights [are] generated through the indirect channel, through tour operators, through the travel trade sectors, so this shows and demonstrates very clearly it’s an important viable part of Switzerland’s business,” he said.
For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.