Switzerland Tourism’s Pascal Prinz, Director, Canada (left) and Claudio Zemp, Director, Americas (second from right) were on hand to open STM 2021

“The destination will benefit”: In-person success for Switzerland Travel Mart 2021

INTERLAKEN — Switzerland Travel Mart (STM) is wrapping up another successful event, this time in the beautiful mountains in Interlaken, together with partners Swiss Travel System, Swiss International Air Lines and Interlaken Tourism.

STM is Switzerland’s most important incoming travel trade show, providing a professional platform to showcase the entire range of tourism products and services in Switzerland.

Over the course of two days, some 450 international buyers from over 50 countries and 300 Swiss suppliers meet via 20-minute pre-scheduled business appointments.

This year, despite the global pandemic, registration and attendance was only down a modest 20%.

“STM is an important event, and it has always been extremely important, but this STM is historic because it’s the first one to take place as the world is coming out of the pandemic. I think it’s pretty cool that we are the first ones in Europe to throw an event like this and ‘first mover’ does have its advantages, and the destination will benefit,” Martin Nydegger, CEO, Switzerland Tourism, told Travelweek.

STM takes place every other year. This year’s event started Oct. 10 with the opening ceremony, followed by two days of workshops and meetings, Oct. 11 – 12. Buyers and suppliers were then invited to experience the ‘Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe’ excursion on Oct. 13 before heading home the next day.

The Swiss government announced in June 2021 that it was opening the country’s borders to fully vaccinated travellers from Canada, in time for the summer holidays. With proof of full vaccination, Canadians can to travel to Switzerland without quarantine or PCR tests.

Starting Oct. 24, 2021, Canadians will need to convert their COVID certificate into a Swiss COVID certificate. That costs around Cdn$35. With the Swiss COVID certificate travellers can access hotels and restaurants across the country.

“For fully vaccinated Canadians, no PCR test upon arrival is required and there’s no quarantine, so it’s easy for Canadians to discover Switzerland and our four language regions,” says Pascal Prinz, Director, Canada for Switzerland Tourism.

Prinz adds: “Canada has always been a crucial market for Switzerland. Canadians have travelled year-round to Switzerland; they love our Swiss Alps just as much as our cities with lots of culture as well as our scenic trains. The fact that 80% of eligible Canadians are already fully vaccinated makes the market even more important for us.”

STM 2021, in Interlaken with its panoramic lakes and mountain views, showcased its own holiday options including Lake Brienz, Lake Thun and the idyllic Diemtigtal Nature Park. In Interlaken, memorably panoramic views of the majestic peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau unfold. Visitors can enjoy the magnificent blooms of spring, the adventures of summer, the colours of autumn and atmospheric winters in the heart of Switzerland.

Interlaken is well-known as one of Europe’s top destinations for adventure sports and the list of possible activities is endless, including hiking, biking, kayaking, paragliding, skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, bungee jumping, canyoning, mountain climbing, jet boating, scenic cruises, ziplining and more.

Says Daniel Sulzer, CEO of Interlaken: “Interlaken is a special place because we have mountains with top excursions, and we also have two lakes with a very deep aqua blue colour. There’s a vast variety of activities you can do, like kayaking and canyoning, but there are also as many 100 different cultural highlights. It’s a very important reason why people visit the region. You can see the cows parade down from the Alps, enjoy the tradition of chocolate, cheese and beer, and take in one of the many shows.”

STM 2021 was sponsored by SWISS, connecting Switzerland from Zurich and Geneva with 100+ destinations around the world. Travellers can customize their SWISS Economy experience and make their trip even more comfortable, whether that means booking a seat with more legroom in advance, spoiling a fellow passenger with a sweet surprise onboard or getting an upgrade. There also stopover in Switzerland options, where a travellers can spend two to four days in Switzerland without adding any cost to their flight.

The conference was also sponsored by the Swiss Travel System. With the much-loved Swiss Travel Passes, passengers get unlimited train, bus and boat travel, public transport in more than 90 cities and towns, and free admission to many museums.

“Switzerland Travel Mart is our lighthouse project, for our trade partners from all over the world this year, and we’re extremely proud to host it. Tour operators and travel advisors are the oxygen in this recovery. Or to put it even more bluntly, there won’t be a recovery without the travel trade,” says Prinz.

“People won’t just go online to book oversea trips. People want peace of mind, flexibility, and advice on testing, what’s open and what the best and safe experiences are, and a machine or chatbot won’t answer all these questions. I clearly see a renaissance of the travel trade, which has never been as important and valuable,” he added.

And with Switzerland Tourism’s Switzerland Travel Academy, agents can learn more about the destination, from its wide open spaces, to its easy transportation options, to plentiful Swiss charm. For more details see https://international.switzerlandtravelacademy.ch/.