Equipped with picture-perfect natural landscapes, a plethora of outdoor adventures and four distinct and utterly charming cultures, Switzerland has what it takes to keep the world’s travellers coming. Emily Millett draws the curtain on new trends that are further evolving the country’s tourism industry.
Switzerland’s holistic tourism offering has guaranteed star status for the country on an international level, and this year, the European gem is hoping to maintain its popularity, with new developments adding to its existing appeal.
“Last year was a fantastic year, both for us and for inbound tourism to Switzerland on the whole, and this already looks set to continue in 2018,” general manager, The Lodge, Verbier, Ashley Crook told TTG. “Of course, for the avid skier or snowboarder, Verbier is a paradise, however, an increasing number of travellers are seeing the Alps as a year-round destination and are visiting in the summer. Trekking, mountain biking and paragliding are all popular activities, and are a fantastic way to take in the stunning landscape.”
Crook has also noticed a growing number of Middle Eastern and Asian travellers visiting the region, either as a stop on a European tour or to specifically experience Switzerland, combining their trip with other destinations in the country such as Zurich and Geneva, among others.
Ski tourism plays a major role in maintaining Switzerland’s popularity, and although the niche works to stay up-to-date, new trends are emerging on the scene, as CEO, Crans-Montana Tourism & Congress, Bruno Huggler explained: “The ski market got a new dynamic with new pricing systems, and thanks to the great snow conditions, many skiers come back more frequently. Touring is a new trend and we are responding with the ‘Grand Tour of Switzerland’, a great project which includes all regions in Switzerland.
“Experiential travel is also key for the future. We develop our own experiences and encourage our partners to do the same, working on the entire chain of services to provide unique adventures,” Huggler added.
BACK TO THE ROOTS
Inherently linked to the experiential travel trend is a desire for tourists to have real, authentic, local and human interactions during their travels, something which Switzerland is currently offering through its local culture, regional gastronomy and a return to nature.
“Travellers want to experience the destination as the locals do,” head of markets and business development, Zürich Tourism, Roland Ottiger told TTG. “They want to experience the destination with all their senses.”
In a bid to help visitors get an authentic feel for the destination, the organisation has put together a series of new offers, including a special food tour through the city and a fondue experience on an e-tuk-tuk.
“Since its inception in 2016, Food Zurich has become one of the biggest highlights on the Swiss calendar of events,” said Ottiger. “More than 150 events celebrate all aspects of food, from a delightful street food festival to a variety of pop-up restaurants and carefully crafted events at gourmet outlets. The event will take place from May 24 until June 3, 2018.”
Meanwhile, highlighting that food is a major component of Switzerland’s culture was Crook, who explained that The Lodge, Verbier is showing guests that the gastronomic repertoire in Switzerland expands far beyond fondue.
“Our chefs make full use of local produce that can be found in the mountains in the summer and autumn,” he declared. “Guests can arrange to visit local producers. A particularly favourite activity that I would highly recommend is spending an afternoon at a nearby vineyard to discover Switzerland’s best kept secret. With this in mind, our catchphrase for 2018 is ‘immersive travel’. Our guests love to get to know the local culture and immerse themselves in it at any opportunity.”
Immersion into Switzerland’s local culture inevitably includes a return to nature, with the lush verdant landscapes proving a key drawcard for visitors.
Echoing this sentiment, director of sales, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Mirjam Meier told TTG: “Sustainability is still of importance, as is experiencing nature, finding the roots and valuing the land and its resources. The cleanliness of nature and sustainability play a huge role in tourism in Switzerland.”
Commenting on the destination’s additional attractions, Meier said: “Discovering four vibrant cultures in one country that is easily accessible through sophisticated public transportation is a major appeal. Wellness and health tourism are growing internationally, and Switzerland is no exception. People are being more conscious of their health, and the prevention of sickness is high on their priority list.”
Although Switzerland prides itself on offering something for everyone, the current market trend is showing an increase in multi-generational travel, as Crook explained to TTG: “Multi-generational trips are becoming increasingly popular and we have seen families looking to book a holiday that will appeal to the children, grandparents and in-laws in equal measure.”
According to Crook, The Lodge offers a balance of activities, culture and relaxation to appeal to multi-generational groups, and every aspect can be tailored to their requirements. While younger members of the family spend the afternoon in the mountains, those looking for rest and relaxation can indulge in a treatment in the hotel’s in-house spa or take in the views from the alpine terrace. The hotel’s bunk room houses up to six children and comes complete with a DVD player, Xbox and bean bags, and younger guests can also get involved in activities such as treasure hunts, pool parties and sledging competitions.
In response to the multi-generational trend, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is currently developing a new separate family spa, in addition to its existing spa area. Commenting on this was Meier: “With this project, we aim to further develop our three-generations concept. Construction work is already underway and the opening of the new spa area for the whole family is planned for April 2018. Our choice of different room styles, a wide range of restaurants on-site as well as a high amount of activities in and around the resorts (for example, skiing or hiking) make us a perfect hideaway for three-generation vacations.”
Well placed to take advantage of the current travel trend for authentic local experiences, Switzerland is currently honing its portfolio, in a bid to appeal to a multi-generational pool of travellers with a penchant for nature, wellness, culture and gastronomy.