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Although Americans are not currently permitted to travel to Switzerland for tourism, Mirko Capodanno, the western U.S. manager for Switzerland Tourism, is optimistic about the future.
In fact, he believes that now is the time for travel advisors to do their homework on the destination and all it has to offer.
Here, Capodanno gives an update on the country’s challenges and opportunities, as well as what future visitors can expect.
What should clients know about Switzerland right now?The pandemic has certainly changed the travel world, but Switzerland will be ready to welcome travelers from the U.S. again soon. It has an excellent healthcare system and pure nature to be explored, and we can’t wait for you and your clients to explore its “flavors,” whether that’s by having a wine tasting in the Lake Geneva region, swimming in Lake Zurich or joining the Grand Tour of Switzerland.
What new initiatives have you implemented?Switzerland has always been pristine and very safe to visit. Nevertheless, we went ahead and worked with our destination, hotel, rail and excursion partners to assure a clean and safe quality standard right away.
The pandemic has certainly strengthened the collaboration with our industry partners within Switzerland, but also in the U.S. and Canada. It’s our role to step forward and act, to train and get operators and travel advisors informed and up to speed for when travel is possible again, and we are happy to help where we can. We have also updated our trade corner on www.myswitzerland.com/trade with useful information.
It’s our role to step forward and act, to train and get operators and travel advisors informed and up to speed for when travel is possible again, and we are happy to help where we can.
Are there specific activities or destinations that will appeal to COVID-19-conscious visitors?The Grand Tour of Switzerland [encompasses] driving along 1,000 miles of a scenic self-driving route (it’s Route 66, Swiss style), [which goes] over five mountain passes in the Swiss Alps to Switzerland’s UNESCO World Heritage sites and along 22 of the most pristine of Switzerland’s lakes. It’s breathtaking. I’ve also had advisors ask me about doing it on a motorbike. Market research has shown that outdoor travel, as well as family travel, will be among the first sectors to come back. Switzerland is the perfect fit.
With more than 40,000 miles of trails — the majority of which do not require a guide — and countless national and regional cycling trails crisscrossing the country, we are well-positioned. Many of our awarded hotels are along these routes — some even specialize in them — and our boutique towns are the perfect start or ending point to explore the landscape. We also know that travelers will probably want to stay longer in a single destination, and since it often takes less than one hour of travel time to switch into another language or cultural area, Switzerland is a great place to discover. Switzerland has four official languages: French, German, Italian and Romantsch, the latter of which is a minority language. With every different language, the culture and gastronomic areas often change.
What advice do you have for advisors interested in selling the country?We love to be engaged with our beloved travel advisors. Be sure to register for webinars (offered on every second Thursday of the month), and become a certified Switzerland Expert. Let us know if we can be of any assistance, anytime. On the trade corner of our website, advisors will find the best tour operators to book a Switzerland trip with, as well as local destination management companies.
Lastly, make sure to join our Facebook group, or let me know if I can be of assistance.
What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?The toughest challenge is the lack of travelers from North America, and the impact this has on our daily work. We are ready with great promotions, but with the situation, it’s hard to communicate them.
Nevertheless, it’s also an opportunity to adapt to a new situation. With COVID-19, the demand for local products and sustainable resorts and destinations has increased. Switzerland, which has had a focus on sustainability for decades, can shine in this respect, and show the path for many generations of travelers to come.
The DetailsSwitzerland Tourismwww.myswitzerland.com