Grand Tour to position Switzerland as mono destination

SWITZERLAND Tourism has mapped out The Grand Tour of Switzerland, a marketing effort to position the country as a single destination rather than just a stop on a European trip for most overseas clients.

Just as Australia has the Great Ocean Road and California the Pacific Coast Highway, Switzerland Tourism is encouraging tour operators and travel agencies to woo more FITs with deeper and more immersive tours through its grand tour route, which connects 44 highlights in one journey.

Fifteen of the highlights are nature attractions; 10 traditional/historical; eight art, culture and architecture; 11 are boutique towns; and 12 are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The whole route covers 1,600km and is designed to make it convenient for the trade to promote self-drive or train journeys, not just through the entire tour but segments of it that fit clients’ duration or specific interest.

With it, the trade can easily flesh out a tailored itinerary for clients, with rental car or Swiss train pass and hotel vouchers included, said Urs Eberhard, Switzerland Tourism’s executive vice president markets & meetings.

Eberhard, together with Swiss partners, will be in Singapore on August 26 to launch the grand tour, and the 150th anniversary of winter sports, to South-east Asian tour operators.

“Our market research also shows that those days when you travel for two weeks and stay put in one place, especially among Europeans, are declining. Exploring and touring are making a comeback. Asian groups, for example, typically have eight days and we want to make sure they understand that they can spend them here, that Switzerland may be small, but it has so many highlights and each region has its own attractions,” said Eberhard.

The grand tour idea is also an attempt to spread the international markets to new areas other than tried-and-tested landmarks such as Jungfrau and Lucerne. This comes at a time when Asian markets, “especially the drivers China and South-east Asia, seem hungry for new products and destinations”, added Simon Bosshart, Switzerland Tourism’s director global accounts and director Asia Pacific.

Said Bosshart: “In these still growing and maturing markets, the past strategy of simply being cheaper than the competitor doesn’t work anymore, and the travel trade has to be creative and come up with new and deeper products in order to satisfy the customer demand. While our big landmarks such as Jungfrau and Lucerne are still the most demanded spots, lesser known destinations such as the Valais, Ticino or Eastern Switzerland have shown substantial growth in the recent years.”

– Read more in TTG Asia’s Longhaul report, September 12

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