We want India to rediscover Switzerland: Claudio Zemp

Bollywood may have already made the scenic beauty of Switzerland a hit with Indian tourists, but the Director India of Swiss Tourism told us that there was much more to see and do in his country and the Indian market was only now discovering 'new' destinations in his country.

Caludio Zemp, Director India, Switzerland Tourism.

CLAUDIO ZEMP, Director India, Switzerland Tourism, spoke exclusively with BW Hotelier during the launch of their winter campaign for 2016 at the Leela Palace, New Delhi.

The campaign titled ‘Nature Wants you back’ was not just about taking in the stunning scenic beauty of Switzerland, Zemp to us, “we are focussing on activities and experiential travel. Switzerland is very well known as a romantic destination. Everyone knows it’s pretty and scenic. Everyone has chiffon sarees in the mountains in their heads. But what surprised me when I came here was to find out that people in India don't really know how many activities you can do in Switzerland. Our campaign for next summer is back to nature, we really are pushing the fun activities like white water rafting, skydiving, bungee jumping and wakeboarding. If you want something a little less hetic, you can also do things like sledging and hiking as well as paddling and boating in our lakes”.

Zemp told us that in the one-and-a-half years he has been in India, he’s heard variations of the refrain that he didn’t really need to sell Switzerland to Indians. “It's very heartening to see how well regarded Switzerland is. But we want to build on this. Consumer demands change. They want to do different things. We have quite strong strategies in diversification in terms of seasonality and we want people to see that Switzerland is a year-round destination, currently it’s still very much a summer destination, peaking in May-June-July,” he told us.

Though the exact numbers of Indians travelling to Switzerland is difficult to ascertain since Switzerland is within the Schengen region, the country is the 8th strongest source market, overtaking The Netherlands and Belgium in 2015. The country had an increase of 22 percent in overnights out of India, which made it their best year ever, Zemp explained.

“We are also seeing a strong emphasis on FIT travel, getting away from group travel, in that respect we work our strategies. We are here with 23 Swiss partners and there’s been a lot of interesting in the so-called 'new destinations'. Of course, these have been around for a long time, but they are new for the Indian market,” he added. Destinations like the Matterhorn in Zermatt is a case point, with the market in India, just getting to know it. Zemp added that areas like the Lake Geneva region, Montreau and Lausanne, were also being developed as 'new' destinations in Switzerland which can be explored by the Indian market.

“The plus 22 percent growth we saw last year is not sustainable. We are very much a boutique destination. There is a limit in the capacity that we can do. That is part of the charm of coming to Switzerland. We are looking at a 10 percent growth over the next two years,” he said.

“If I had my way, I would of course want everybody to come to Switzerland as a mono destination and spend their time there. It’s also great beneficial for us to be surrounded by beautiful neighbours who have a lot to offer as well. The draw to come to Europe and be included in one of the itineraries is big. Most people are happy to come to Switzerland last--it's like the highlight of their trip. I think it's a big complement for us,” he said in conclusion.

The summer campaign “Nature wants you back”, led by Brand Ambassador Ranveer Singh was also launched during the press conference.

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