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Last Updated : Sep 16, 2019 08:34 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Switzerland confident of India, but sees 2019 as a rough patch for tourism

Switzerland is now focusing on building its image as a holiday destination that welcomes people all the 365 days a year.

Maryam Farooqui @farooqui_maryam
 
 
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You may be a Sridevi fan or a 90s kid to remember the song 'Chandini...oh meri Chandini' from the film titled Chandini.

Along with the actress’ beauty there was something else that Indians noticed in the film. It was the scenic beauty of Switzerland.

Even late Yash Chopra, after his first trip to Switzerland, decided to shoot all his films in the country.

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Since then, Bollywood’s love affair with Switzerland has always been captured on the big screen.

But being a romantic destination for India was not enough for Switzerland despite India’s growing outbound market to the country.

Talking to Moneycontrol, Ritu Sharma, Deputy Director, Switzerland Tourism, said that Indians are interested but Switzerland was missing a certain section of holiday travel.

“The younger generation said they don’t want to go to a romantic place and want to go for adventure activities instead,” she said.

While Switzerland Tourism tried conveying this to the Indian travelers, they only paid heed when they heard it from actor Ranveer Singh.

Since the time Ranveer has come on board, Switzerland has seen a big jump in overnights, Sharma told Moneycontrol. A 25 percent jump in 2016; 23.7 percent growth in 2017; and 2018 a 10 percent growth.

This is because Ranveer showed Indians that they can indulge in active sports like biking, hiking, visit small vineyards to experience Swiss wine, among other things.

She also clarified that they mention 'overnights' and not 'arrivals' because Switzerland is part of Schengen, which gives travellers many ways to come to Switzerland along with flights. Besides,  there is no passport control.

"A system has been set up where every time a person checks in, he/she has to give the details of his/her nationality to the hotel. The hotels have to collect this data and send it out every two weeks,” said Sharma.

There is no denying that India is a potential market for Switzerland. After all, Indians spend an average of three nights during their visit to the country.

The overnights coming out of India have increased from 150,000 in 2000 to 810,000 in 2018.

In addition, the average spend by an Indian in Switzerland is 340 Swiss francs.

With this, India has become the second highest country in terms of spends, and is only behind the Gulf states.

While India is an important market for Switzerland, things look rocky this year. This is because of two reasons. The first is general elections that went on till May.

"Every five years, when Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to take place in May, there is always a big drop," said Sharma.

"Usually, June becomes extremely good. But this time, we don’t think it is going to recover because May-June also saw the demise of Jet Airways, which had a huge reduction in seats available to Europe," Sharma explained.

“No other airline can immediately put in those extra seats. It was only in September that there were new flights coming in. There was a capacity crunch. So, fares went up in May-June by 50 percent to all over the world, especially Europe, which is slightly more expensive. Even today, fares are more expensive by at least 20 percent, as compared to the same period last year,” Sharma added.

Sharma said that for now, their aim is seven to eight percent growth in 2020, given that everything stays the way it is now. They are banking on the festive period.

However, travel agents are scared because there are many queries, but they are not turning into sales.

If you are planning for international travel and Switzerland is on your list, autumn and winter could be the right season, when both flight tickets and stay are comparatively cheaper.

Sharma said that they had to educate people about a lot of things as far as visiting Switzerland during winter and seasons other than summer is concerned.

“We had to tell people that Switzerland has central heating," she said.

The dissemination of such information has helped Switzerland in seeing an increase in tourists during winter as well.

Switzerland is now focusing on building its image as a holiday destination that welcomes people all the 365 days a year.

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First Published on Sep 16, 2019 08:34 pm
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