Switzerland Tourism hosted an evening "apero" (cocktail party) Tuesday night (May 30) in downtown Toronto on the 19th floor of its "Skyclub Terrace" on University Avenue.
With scenic city views and perfect weather in the backdrop, and with a delicious spread of nibbles, the tourist board thanked Canadian suppliers and the media for their support in promoting Switzerland and its experiences.
Eighteen Canadian suppliers and seventeen Switzerland partners also engaged in productive discussions earlier in the day.
Attendees had the opportunity to meet the tourism board's new director for Canada, Oliver Weibel, who is visiting key markets throughout Canada this week.
Following events in Montreal and Toronto, the tourism board and its partners will visit Calgary and Vancouver.
PAX sat down with the new director for an informal interview where he discussed his love for Canada, its people, and culture, noting Switzerland and Canada have many things in common.
According to Weibel, Canadians love to travel, and this makes it an excellent market for Switzerland.
Canadian visitors on the rise
Visitation numbers are not yet official, but Weibel told PAX that Canadian visitation is on the rise compared to 2022, despite still being lower than in 2019.
According to the tourism board, Canadians are also showing signs of extending their overall stay and visiting multiple destinations throughout Switzerland.
Weibel shared: “I think this goes hand in hand because, with the Swiss Travel Pass, which is all-inclusive, you can use the train, bus, and boat.”
This, he said, has helped Canadians experience Switzerland in a more in-depth way.
He also added that Canadians enjoy the outdoor aspects of Switzerland, especially the panoramic train routes.
With all signs pointing upward, and now that the travel restrictions have been lifted, Weibel said Swiss tourism is on the right path to recovery and expects to reach 2019's numbers in due course.
We need Switzerland
The We need Switzerland campaign, launched in 2020, has been running strong and will be a long-term initiative that leverages the play on the words "I need" to create an association between "I need" and Switzerland.
With the umbrella campaign, Switzerland Tourism can adapt the concept from one season to the next and with the activities and experiences available to visitors.
As an example, Weibel shared the latest campaign, “I need the ride of a lifetime. I need Switzerland” featuring former tennis star Roger Federer, which promotes rail travel and the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland.
As for a strategy to work with the trade, Weibel said: “We really want to focus on getting on board and engaged together with the travel advisors, and tour operators. This is really important.”
One aspect of Switzerland Tourism's strategy is providing sustainable tourism products to tour operators.
As an example, Weibel shared that earlier this year, the tourism board teamed up with The Travel Corporation to invite top advisors to apply for a chance to travel in July on an educational trip that showcases offerings from Trafalgar, Costsaver, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold in Switzerland.
Throughout the trip, advisors will learn about each brand's Make Travel Matter experiences to help them introduce sustainable travel options known as Swisstainable experiences to their clients.
Visitors can experience nature up close and in person, experience the local culture authentically, consume regional products, and stay longer.
Switzerland Tourism is about collaborating with the trade, said Weibel: “We are here for you, whatever support you need. (Switzerland), it’s a great country, a safe country.”