Switzerland reopened to fully vaccinated Canadian travellers on June 26, a major milestone in its road to recovery following months of border closures due to the global pandemic. In this week’s Take 5, we sit down with Pascal Prinz, Director Canada of Switzerland Tourism & Chair of the European Travel Commission, Canada Chapter, to discuss what’s now required for Canadians upon entry, what life is like in the country right now, and what visitors have to look forward to in 2021 and beyond.
- With Switzerland now open to fully vaccinated Canadians, are you anticipating a significant uptick in visitor arrivals this summer season?
Yes, the fast vaccine rollout in Canada and Switzerland makes us hopeful. For fully vaccinated Canadians who want to travel in a sustainable way, put Switzerland on your bucket list and take advantage of our TravelBrands Inc. agent rewards and Goway agent awards to get $50 extra commission, and our Swiss Travel Pass 25% discount promotion by July 31.
Switzerland is a year-round destination. Our fall with wineries, hiking and stunning colours as well as our pristine winter wonderland will put a big smile on Canadian travellers’ faces. The pandemic has taught us to be nimble. I can’t give you a number for how many Canadians will come this year, but I can assure you we have missed our Canadian friends and look forward to welcoming them back.
- Is Switzerland implementing the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate system, or is the destination using its own method to verify the vaccination status for international tourists?
Yes, Switzerland is now fully integrated in the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate system. For Canadians, I recommend keeping a printout of the certificate from Public Health Canada in your passport and keeping a picture of it on your phone to show that you’re fully vaccinated. Fifteen days after your second shot you can travel to Switzerland without a test or quarantine upon arrival. For Canadians right now, the ArriveCan app is the most important and useful tool for their travels.
- What is life like in Switzerland now? And are COVID cases under control?
Life in Switzerland has come back to the new normal, with 42% of the Swiss population already fully vaccinated. Switzerland has implemented strict ‘clean and safe’ travel protocols to ensure a smooth experience. Still applicable is the requirement to wear masks indoors at events without a COVID certificate requirement, in restaurants and shops and on public transport. Fortunately, the most vulnerable population has been vaccinated and is protected now. Therefore, there’s no increase in hospitalization anymore, which is what we all want and have worked hard towards.
- How can Canadians get to Switzerland this summer/fall?
We’re pleased that Air Canada and SWISS are resuming flights and increasing their frequency from Toronto and Montreal to Zurich and Geneva up to three and four flights per week.
- What’s new in Switzerland this year?
Our new campaign showcases why Canadians will love Switzerland if they make it their first choice of transatlantic travel. It is a collaboration with Vancouver-based photographer Callum Snape. Highlights include sublime hiking and cycling adventures for all ages and fitness levels, as well as exploring our boutique cities, swimming in turquoise lakes and discovering our four-language regions. It already looks great in the pictures but even better when you’re seeing it there with your own eyes. I wish you a wonderful trip!
For more information on travel to Switzerland go to www.MySwitzerland.com.