TORONTO — Switzerland Tourism and Trafalgar recently teamed up to host an intimate breakfast in Toronto for travel agent partners and trade media to promote the destination’s new offerings and explain why now is the best time to book a visit.
Evelyn Lafone, Director Canada Trade Manager Central USA for Switzerland Tourism, said that visitation has steadily increased in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015, and that the destination has not been affected much by recent terror attacks in Europe. In fact, Switzerland has seen a significant rise in river cruise bookings, welcoming an average 200,000 passengers each year. And due to the close proximity it has to several neighbouring countries, many cruisers opt for itineraries that also include France and Germany.
Lafone credited Switzerland’s strategic location (it’s surrounded by France, Germany, Italy and Austria) for its cosmopolitan flair and open-mindedness. As such, she says Switzerland and Canada are very similar in that they both share a certain cultural sophistication and friendly and welcoming people.
It’s no wonder then that Switzerland continues to welcome Canadians in droves, maybe not as much as France and Italy, which Anita Emilio, Vice President of Sales, admits are Europe’s primary tourist destinations, but enough to put the destination on the radar each year during peak summer months.
Trafalgar’s newly released Autumn, Winter & Spring (AWS) Europe program features one standalone Switzerland itinerary; in total, the company offers 14 itineraries in its regular Europe program that feature the destination. To entice clients to book, Trafalgar is offering up to 40% off regular fares with its AWS program.
In addition to great savings, this summer is the perfect time to visit Switzerland. Set to debut in early June is the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT), which has been dubbed the world’s longest and deepest traffic tunnel at a total route length of 57 kilometres. It’s also the first flat low-level route through the Alps, making it easier for travellers to get around and explore the sights.
But according to Rares Dumitru, Regional Sales Director Canada of Rail Europe, there’s no better way to discover Switzerland than by rail. With a Swiss Travel Pass, travellers can board any train, bus or boat, plus several cable cars, all at one convenient price.
Other selling points to keep in mind when selling Switzerland are its beautiful Christmas markets, particularly in Basel, which is home to the country’s oldest and largest market, Mount Pilatus in Lucerne, considered one of the most legendary places in Central Switzerland, and Jungrau, one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps and known as “the top of Europe.”