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JUST WHAT YOU NEED: Swiss roll out new tourism campaign

No more merely climbing the Matterhorn in your mind, savouring Swiss chocolate from the supermarket, or fondue-ing at home with family or close personal friends – Switzerland Tourism believes the time is right to start talking about booking travel again.

With this in mind, the country’s tourist board has partnered with Goway Travel (in English Canada), Tours Chanteclerc (in Quebec), and Lindt (chocolate) to launch the promotional campaign “I Need Switzerland” in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, starting today (Oct. 5).

The major consumer and trade campaign initiative runs until Nov. 1 and features the images of Toronto photographer Mike Sidofsky “showing you why you need Switzerland,” as well as offering a contest for a chance to win a trip to Switzerland courtesy of Goway and Tours Chanteclerc.

Travel Industry Today sat down (virtually) with Pascal Prinz, Director for Switzerland Tourism in Canada, and Goway’s VP for Europe, Craig Canvin, to discuss the campaign, COVID, and why Canadians should be thinking about Switzerland now:

And there is an excellent offer – book before May 31, 2021 and save $500 per booking – with great flexibility with Goway and Tours Chanteclerc listed on our website, as well as a chance for consumers to win an amazing trip to Switzerland in 2021.



Why is the time right for the ‘I Need Switzerland’ campaign?

Prinz – Switzerland and Canada rank amongst the safest countries in this COVID-19 world according to a recent study by the Deep Knowledge Group and Canadians can travel to Switzerland without having to quarantine upon arrival.

Canadian tour operators are also telling us they’re seeing a lot of interest in Europe for 2021. So, for Canadians who are looking for cleanliness, sustainable and outdoor travel, Switzerland offers great experiences. In addition, our four language regions (Italian, French, German and Romansh) allow Canadians to discover four completely different destinations in one single country.

Canvin – After taking a long break from travel, globetrotters who are so eager to explore again, once the time is right, are likely to first visit places that allow us to stay off-the-beaten path, enjoy outdoor spaces, and that – at long last – allow us to totally unwind, both mentally and physically. Switzerland checks all those boxes, and then some. Additionally, it is worth noting that Switzerland is inviting Canadians to visit and that the country’s COVID-19 measures have been widely effective.

Is this promotion designed to be aspirational or actionable (or both)?

Prinz – Both, aspirational and actionable. The campaign focuses on the Swiss boutique cities, stunning landscapes and mountain peaks and, during family gatherings at Thanksgiving and the holidays, travel will come up and we want Switzerland to be top of mind. So, if Canadians leave Canada now or next year, Switzerland will be seen as a preferable choice. And once the border opens, all destinations will be competing in a very noisy marketplace. With this campaign, we will get more attention now.

Where will consumers see the campaign?

Prinz – We will have a strong social media presence, on our website, and with our partner the Toronto Star.

Gstaad, Image/ Mike Sidofsky

What was the inspiration behind using the photos of Canadian Mike Sidofsky for this campaign?

Prinz – We want to show Switzerland through the eyes of a young Canadian. Mike is talented, humble and genuine – a great ambassador for Canada and now also for Switzerland. Our strategy is to inspire a younger and outdoorsy audience that’s also likely to travel again sooner. Plus, he has a committed community on social media and with this campaign a strong digital and social media presence is key in the current new environment where many people work remotely and look for travel inspiration online.

When do Canadians typically visit Switzerland?

Prinz – Two-thirds of all visitors from Canada visit Switzerland during the summer months. But Fall is a great season to discover Switzerland, often offering great deals. It’s also a sensual season: colourful, mystical and inspiring. That’s why we started promoting fall as its own season two years ago and our guests enjoy this season a lot, experiencing great hiking and biking, and enjoying colourful forests and vineyards. Fall is also great for cuisine, when seasonal specialties grace the tables.

We just launched Switzerland’s first live foliage map showing. It shows where and when guests can experience our most beautiful FALL COLOURS.

Canvin – Switzerland is one of the few places that truly deserves to be described as a year-round destination. The incredible (and scenic) Swiss rail system makes the country accessible throughout the year, and while the Alps and Jura mountain ranges are chilly in winter, much of Switzerland enjoys mild, temperate climates throughout the year.

For nature enthusiasts, in particular, every season has something special to offer and there are all sorts of excellent spring and fall festivals that really bring to life the beauty of Swiss culture, making those great times to visit for travellers seeking symphony concerts, social gatherings, and experiences of that kind.

Tell us about winter.

Prinz – Here’s just a few reasons that make Switzerland special in winter:

• Switzerland has Europe’s highest average altitude of ski resorts
• Milder winter – have lunch and apres-ski outdoors
• Value for money for ski tickets (often 25% lower rates than North America)
• All ski resorts in Switzerland are planning to be operating this winter
• The most winter hiking trails in Europe
• Wellness and gastronomy
• Proximity to cities for non-skiing partners
• Cultural offerings in the resorts and nearby city

How is Switzerland coping with COVID?

Prinz – Clean is the new sexy, so Switzerland is well-positioned as it perceived as a clean and safe destination. An external review by TripAdvisor in 2019 showed that in comparison with other European countries with at least 5,000 accommodation reviews, accommodations in Switzerland rank first in terms of cleanliness.

Switzerland has also launched a Clean and Safe Label ensuring strong and pragmatic protection against COVID-19 in for hotels, restaurants, and transportation. There is also a COVID app that can be downloaded for information and tracking.

What should Canadians know about visiting and what is open?

Prinz – Canadians have been allowed to visit Switzerland since July 20 with no quarantine or other restrictions (though 14-day quarantine applies upon return to Canada). For all sectors, such as accommodation, gastronomy, and transport, precautionary protocols must be observed, including:

• Masks are mandatory on public transport: train, buses, boats, cable cars, etc.
• Depending on the region, masks have to be worn while shopping
• Hotels are all operating under new safety protocols
• Restaurants and bars are open for indoor dining with safety regulations
• Museums and other institutions are open.

At the same time, for outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking, there is currently no obligation to wear a mask, including for snow sports. People have become more outdoorsy during the pandemic.

I witnessed this first-hand late last month when I visited Switzerland and did a 40-km e-bike ride with my dad. We enjoyed the stunning vistas, the freedom, and the clean Swiss mountain air. A highlight of our journey was stopping to meet a local farmer, whose cow had just given birth. It was a touching and magical moment.


Basel, Image/ Mike Sidofsky

Who will be travelling in the next six months as travel gradually resumes?

Prinz – Younger travellers; those looking for a safe destination; outdoor enthusiasts, including soft adventure (hiking, biking, skiing); well-being; luxury; and FIT. Business travel will recover in 2021

Canvin – Most Canadians are aware of – and concerned about – environmental impacts while travelling and Switzerland is a leader in sustainable travel. With natural beauty, fantastic wellness retreats, accessibility, and range of sustainable travel options, Switzerland is understandably the top choice on many Canadian “must-see” travel lists.

What is the role of the travel trade?

Prinz – The travel trade will have a key role and we actively promote to use tour operators and travel agents. Our message to the consumer is consistent and clear: If you travel right now, go to a travel advisor or a tour operator because you want peace of mind from someone who has the latest regulations. We will continue to promote the travel trade because if we want to get out of this, I am convinced the travel trade is the key to rebuilding our industry.

What’s the best way for Canadians to get to Switzerland?

Prinz – Our great Star Alliance partners SWISS and Air Canada offer direct flights from Montreal and Toronto to Zurich and Geneva several times every week. I just flew back to Toronto from Zurich. The flight was excellent, clean and professional. Everybody was respectful, wearing a mask, and I felt completely safe at all times on the plane and at the airports.


First published at Travel Industry Today

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