Exclusive interview: Ivan Breiter, Director for Southeast Asia, Switzerland Tourism
While many countries have been “spinning their wheels” during the COVID-19 crisis, Switzerland has been very active in finding ways to keep the travel trade in business. We asked Ivan Breiter, Director for Southeast Asia, Switzerland Tourism to tell us more.
With the restrictive cross border policies, leisure travel from Asia has been very limited. Our main focus has therefore been on attracting the domestic and neighbouring source markets. The domestic market is the backbone of the Swiss tourism industry, generating in an average year almost half of all overnights in Switzerland. The record growth in the domestic travel and the ability to secure 70-90% of customers from Germany, the Benelux and France during the Summer months, through intensive campaigning, helped the tourism industry in the Alpine Region of our country. The cities on the other side, with the lack of business, MICE traffic and Asian guests were hit the hardest.
How have your initiatives been working during this time?
Initiatives like “Bed and Bureau”, that hops on the trend of Bleisure travel, having calm working time in a business hotel and enjoying some days in a less known city attracted new segments. Our congress destinations have shown that it is possible to conduct physical meetings with efficient safety and distancing measures in place. Nevertheless, those initiatives couldn’t compensate for the significant impact of COVID-19 on our tourism industry.
What kinds of tourism are you promoting at ITB Asia Virtual?
Switzerland has always been the place for high quality tourism and is considered the eponym of a clean and safe country, with many attractions that cater to the well-travelled and sophisticated globetrotter. Itineraries that discover the beauty of Switzerland, its hidden treasures, the different seasons, its gastronomy and its traditions will be the ones that we will highlight at ITB Asia 2020 Virtual. We are looking very much forward to welcoming our dear guests from Asia in Switzerland again soon.
for domestic travel
In Switzerland, a number of proposals have been developed to incentivise Swiss residents to holiday in their own country. The centrepiece of the support plan was to give every Swiss resident a 200-franc voucher to be spent in the Swiss tourism or hospitality industries. The vouchers can be used in hotels or with tour operators, while the money can also go towards restaurants and leisure facilities. The total cost of the voucher scheme is around 1.7bn Swiss Francs.
Meanwhile, in a bid to kick-start the city’s tourism industry, Geneva Tourism has invested significantly into “Geneva Boxes” giving visitors exciting city experiences and hotel packages with up to a 65% saving, up until 31 December 2020.
The Geneva Boxes are divided into four main themes: the terroir, the art of living (culture, gastronomy and nature), international/scientific Geneva and fine watchmaking.
All boxes include accommodation, public transport and an activity.
Create your own watch
- 1 double room in a 5-star hotel for 1 night for 2 people with breakfast
- Making your own watch with a master watchmaker – activity for 2 people, making 1 watch, lunch with the watchmaker included
- Free public transport (Geneva Transport Card)
- Price for 2 people (approximate): €894 instead of €2,540 (65% saving)