Natalia Skachkova, Manse Travel Studio; Sandra Babey, Switzerland Tourism; Louise Sutton, Flight Centre Natalia Skachkova, Manse Travel Studio; Sandra Babey, Switzerland Tourism; Louise Sutton, Flight Centre

Switzerland: Panoramic trains, seasonality, chocolate

The advantages of selling beyond the main scenic trains and looking away from peak season are two of the messages being promoted by a visiting Swiss tourism group this week.

Sandra Babey, director Australia and New Zealand / APAC with Switzerland Tourism, says the organisation is grateful to the trade here for its enthusiasm in selling the European destination.

‘They are all selling the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express but there are so many other experiences, including different trains for their clients when they visit Switzerland.’

She says Switzerland has a Travel Better message, encouraging people to visit in a sustainable way and  part of this is spreading out both geographically and seasonally.

‘The autumn – September through November – is a beautiful time to visit Switzerland. It is less crowded, there is an explosion of colour and it is harvest season, so it is ideal from culinary point of view.’

Babey says agents are encouraged to join the Switzerland Travel Academy to keep up to date with everything new and for tips on how to sell the destination.

Evelyne Jeannerat, head of markets for Zurich, says the city has a sweet attraction that opened during the pandemic and will be new to Kiwi clients.

‘Lint Home of Chocolate is all about Cacao and the history of chocolate in Switzerland. It is interactive, with choclate tasting at the end.’

She says a highlight is a nine-metre chocolate fountain at the entrance.

James Hooper, key account manager with Rail Europe, says the company has seen growth of 60% year on year out of New Zealand, with most of the surge coming through retail partners.

‘We’ve ramped up our presentation in market with agent incentives, famils, promotions and visits,’ says Hooper.

Renato Julier, director markets with Interlaken Tourism promotes the region as ‘the Queenstown of Europe’.

‘You get the mountains, lakes and adrenalin experience but one big difference that Switzerland has is the public transport system. It is so easy to experience Interlaken and use it as a gateway to many other areas and cultures.’

He says Interlaken is well known for its summers but can also be sold as a winter destination.

‘We’re talking about Winterlaken. Within 30 minutes, clients have access to more than 200 kilometres of slopes.’

Alan Ramsay, head of markets for Schilthorn – Piz Gloria says says a new cable car will soon be operating from the valley to the peak at the attractuion. Set to be the steepest cable car ride in the world, its first two stages will open on 13 December and the full trip be operating mid-March 2025.

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