SWITZERLAND Tourism is opening a regional office in Singapore to tap more arrivals from South-east Asia, its fourth “booming” market after China, India and Russia.
It has shortlisted three candidates in Switzerland for the position of director for the Singapore office, who will oversee promotion and marketing of the destination to the travel trade and media in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The move is hastened by declining arrivals from its main markets such as Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy and the UK as a result of the economic crisis. In contrast, the South-east Asia market grew 13 per cent to around 170,000 pax last year, said Switzerland Tourism executive vice president-Markets & Meetings, Urs Eberhard.
“The decline (in the European markets) is quite prominent, up to 10 per cent. Because of their larger numbers, it is substantial, even though there are markets like France which are not declining as much, say, three per cent, and those like Spain, Poland and the Nordic countries which are still registering positive growth,” said Eberhard. He was in Singapore with about 12 representatives from the various Swiss cantons to conduct a workshop attended by some 100 travel consultants. The road show continues in Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur this week.
Singapore is the largest South-east Asian market, accounting for some 35 per cent of total arrivals from the region, followed by Thailand (30 per cent). However, growth is fastest from Indonesia, up 46 per cent last year, Eberhard added.
Currently, Switzerland Tourism has a representative in Singapore and Malaysia in the form of an embassy staff who dedicates about 30 per cent of his time to tourism representation. This will be the first time a full-time dedicated director is installed to increase Switzerland’s share of the South-east Asian market, with a target of 12 per cent annual growth. The director will continue to be supported by the embassy representatives in Singapore and Malaysia. In Thailand and Indonesia, there would also eventually be similar support by an embassy staff, said Eberhard.
The Singapore regional office, to be located within the Swiss embassy, is expected to be operational by May or June.
Eberhard said Switzerland Tourism believed in working with the travel trade and would be supporting travel consultants in conducting consumer promotions, joint advertising and raising awareness by organising fam trips to Switzerland, among other initiatives.
Lucerne Tourism market manager Overseas, Mark Meier, said: “We have been pushing for Switzerland Tourism to have a dedicated person to promote Switzerland in South-east Asia. We can see that the figures are growing. For us, in our area, we saw 40 per cent growth from Indonesia and 20 per cent from Malaysia, for example.”