Swiss Travel Centre sets up first Asia base in Hong Kong

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Switzerland’s largest DMC Swiss Travel Centre (STC) now has its first Asia base with the opening of an office in Hong Kong.

Launched on November 29, the Hong Kong office has three full-time staff and handles only B2B business. Currently, the DMC has representatives taking care of Asia sales activities in Beijing, Seoul and Bangkok.

Front row, from left: STC’s Fabian Bryner, Eva Ammann and Michael Maeder; back row, from left: STC’s Ling Gao, Carrie Ho and Alex Hsu

General manager Ling Gao said: “We expect the biggest growth of our business from Asia over the foreseeable future. With the opening of the office in Hong Kong, we have made sure to be prepared for this potential by becoming closer to our customers.”

The Hong Kong office will initially serve mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bookings from other Asian markets are handled by the head office in Zurich for the time being, with the possibility of being transferred to the Hong Kong office in future.

“More and more guests from Asia are travelling to Switzerland, often by group tours through several cities. They want to return for a longer visit to Switzerland to share its grandeur with their children,” Gao said.

“The increased interest is a good reason for opening our Asia-based office. Another core reason is of course that we would like to enhance our service to the Asian industry and clients.”

China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea – where mono groups are on the up – are currently the DMC’s key Asian markets. New potential markets identified in the DMC’s longer term plans include Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Zurich-based CEO Michael Maeder explained why Hong Kong was chosen as the company’s Asian base over Singapore and Beijing.

“Criteria like the ease of getting a visa, professionalism and taxes were considered. We made the right choice and still have a team in Zurich to take care of customers from Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Taiwan. Both teams stay in very close contact with suppliers in Asia and partners in Switzerland.

“Looking ahead, we hope to grow using a hub-and-spoke model with representatives appointed in other cities to support our hub office in Hong Kong. Our representative in Beijing, for instance, continues to promote our company within the travel trade in support of that development.”

Meanwhile, the DMC will continue to attend the trade activities organised by Switzerland Tourism and engage individual tour operators through activities such as sales calls, workshops or organising fam trips to Switzerland, Gao shared,

“For instance, we will join STE China next February and engage in sales calls in mainland China afterwards.”

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