An Interview with Ivan Breiter, Director South East Asia Switzerland TourismCountry Focus
How important is tourism for Switzerland and what role plays the Indonesian market?
Switzerland is the cradle of tourism. The first ever leisure group tour by the famous Thomas Cook came to see the beauty of our country, and winter and alpine tourism have their roots in Switzerland as well. Therefore, it is no wonder that so many of the best hospitality schools were founded in Switzerland and attract top students from around the world.
Today, tourism is still one of the top 5 export industries for Switzerland, and in certain rural and mountainous areas the most important source of income.
Indonesia is one of our strategic growth markets. Over the last 10 years, the number of overnight stays from Indonesians in Switzerland tripled. In 2006, we had just over 24 000 overnight stays, and last year this number almost reached 79 000. This year, we will achieve a new all-time record. So far, we hosted 16.9 percent more Indonesians in Switzerland compared to last year. The future looks bright too, as we are expecting an annual increase between 5 to 8 percent in the upcoming years.
Indonesians travel outside of the European school holidays, which helps the Swiss tourism industry to reach a better occupancy throughout the year, while our Indonesian guests can profit from lower room rates.
Why is Switzerland so popular among Indonesian tourists?
The beauty of the country is just breathtaking: snow peaked mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers, fairytale forests and clean, beautiful medieval towns.
Those natural assets combined with Swiss quality hospitality, seamless connectivity by train, bus and boat and the location in the heart of Europe make it so attractive. When staying in Switzerland, you do not need to pack and unpack every day because all the highlights are so near that you can easily stay at one place and embark on daily excursions from there.
You were talking about the very good public transportation system in Switzerland. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
We created a very special offer called the Swiss Travel Pass. This allows anyone living outside of Switzerland to use almost the entire public transportation system. The famous panorama routes by train such as the Glacier Express or the Golden Pass Line are included in this pass. You can also use all the postal buses, public transport within the city, and you can even cruise on lake steamers that are more than 100 years old. If you like to go up the mountain, most of the mountain excursions offer a 50% discount. Some of them, like the Schilthorn, Stanserhorn or Schynige Platte, are entirely free of charge.
The Swiss Travel System also offers the unique possibility to transport your luggage from hotel to hotel. You just leave the suitcases with the concierge before 9 AM and will find them in your next hotel by 6 PM.
Switzerland is a country of four seasons. What is so special about the upcoming winter holidays in Switzerland?
For me, there is hardly anything more beautiful than snowflakes falling from the sky and covering the world in a thick white blanket. A snow-covered landscape is a source of great tranquillity, but also the stage for sports experiences that people look forward to all year long. Fantastic ski regions with superb pistes and magnificent deep powder snow make Switzerland the home of winter sports – in other words: back to the original ski resort. The mountains here are simply a little higher, the snow a touch deeper and the fun a lot greater. Treat yourself to this winter upgrade.
Where can our readers get more information on Switzerland?
I would recommend our website www.MySwitzerland.com. It is the most visited tourism destination website in the world. You can find itinerary suggestions, guided tours, top events, information about the Swiss Travel System and accommodation that suits your budget and interests, from luxury hideaways and family resorts to trendy urban lifestyle hotels. The website also includes offers of Indonesia’s top travel agencies.