Sunday,  September 20, 2020  9:35 am

Winter is coming and Switzerland Tourism is ready

Winter is coming and Switzerland Tourism is ready
From left: Rares Dumitru, regional sales director, Canada, Rail Europe; Martin Oester, sales and marketing manager for Swiss Travel System; Fabia Leoni, sales manager, Engadin St. Moritz; Pascal Prinz, director, Canada, trade manager Central USA, Switzerland Tourism; Ursula Beamish-Mader, manager of media relations for N.A.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Switzerland is more affordable than you think.

Switzerland is closer than you think.

And all walks of life – from kids to couples to adrenaline junkies seeking epic ski slopes – will love it.

That was the message Switzerland Tourism shared with media and travel advisors Tuesday morning (Sept 10th) over breakfast at Toronto’s Marché Mövenpick restaurant.

Winter is coming, and although the sub-zero temperatures haven’t rolled in just yet, the tourism board was eager to update the industry on its latest wintery experiences.

That includes the “Home of Chocolate,” an interactive visitor centre by Swiss chocolatier, Lindt, that will open its doors in 2020.

SWISS BLISS. An eight-metre-high chocolate fountain awaits at Lindt's upcoming Home of Chocolate.

Located near Zurich’s city centre, the attraction will feature the world’s largest Lindt chocolate shop and an eight-metre-high chocolate fountain near its entrance.

Also coming up is the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne this January 2020.

Lausanne, a city on Lake Geneva, (and home to the International Olympic Committee headquarters) is also celebrating the opening of the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts, which launched a new arts district in town: PLATEFORME 10.

This is all just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Aided by a slide show depicting images and videos of Switzerland’s incredible mountains, lakes and villages, Pascal Prinz, director of Switzerland Tourism in Canada, put the spotlight on St. Moritz, a stunning alpine resort town in Switzerland’s Engadin valley.

UPGRADING WINTER. Pascal Prinz, director of Switzerland Tourism in Canada, put the spotlight on St. Moritz at Tuesday's presentation.

At an elevation of 1,856 metres, St. Moritz is credited for its world-class ski resorts, 320 days of sunshine and is known as the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism.

This is where Prinz will tell you that “Switzerland is more affordable than you think,” as he highlighted a sleep-and-ski promo currently offered by participating hotels in St. Moritz: stay for one night and receive a ski pass for $60 Canadian dollars.

“Sixty dollars for a day ski pass is amazing value for money. Would you agree with that?” Prinz asked the morning’s nearly two dozen guests, the bulk of which replied in a sounding agreement.

In attendance was Fabia Leoni, a sales manager for Engadin St. Moritza stunning resort that sits on the southern side of the Swiss Alps at 1,800 meters above sea level – the “Roof of Europe.”

“There’s a whole life up in the mountains,” Leoni said, speaking of the region’s “amazing” slopes and passion for local tradition.

A view of Engadin St. Moritz. Photo:

St. Moritz is also the birthplace of snow polo (like regular polo, except played on ice), and the world’s premier competition takes place on the town’s frozen lake in January.

The December, your clients can experience the St. Moritz Winter Opening, which turns the Plazza Rosatsch into a winter wonderland of street food and entertainment.

On the accommodations front, a new city hotel, The Walhalla, will open in St. Gallen (located in northeastern Switzerland) this month (it’s also conveniently located next to a  train station).

Ski fanatics can look forward to the opening of the last stage of Swisspeak Resorts in Zinal, a village in the Swiss Alps in the Val de Zinal valley. (It offers 97 apartments, all with kitchens).

Finally, in the Ticino region in southern Switzerland, The Nordic Centre of Campra has been completely refurbished for the coming winter season.

Getting around

One of the best ways to see Switzerland, regardless of your client’s budget, is to purchase the Swiss Travel Pass, an all-in-one ticket that allows one to travel by rail, road and waterway throughout the entire country.

No reservations are required and the pass includes value-added perks, too, such as public transportation within cities and access to some 500 museums and 25 castles.

“The Swiss Travel Pass is your ticket to all of Switzerland,” said Martin Oester, sales and marketing manager for Swiss Travel System.

The Swiss Travel Pass has also recently gone paperless – it is now available as an e-ticket.

SEAT WITH A VIEW. The new Excellence Class on The Glacier Express. Photo:

Trains are a key component to experiencing Switzerland. “They get you all the way to not just the city, but also to the mountain resorts. They get you everywhere,” Oester said.

For luxury-seekers, the new premium car class of the Glacier Express was launched last March. It offers 20 seats with impressive panoramic windows, a personal travel companion, a comprehensive menu and tablets for on-board entertainment.

Canadians are loving Switzerland

“Switzerland continues to be very popular in Canada,” Prinz told attendees. 

According to Switzerland Tourism’s latest stats, Canadian overnights in Switzerland were up 4.5 per cent from January to July this year (compared to 2018). 

Ontario is Switzerland’s leading source market, accounting for 37.1 per cent of Canadian overnight visitors. Quebec ranks second (29.5 per cent), with British Columbia coming in third (16.2 per cent).

Getting to Switzerland from Canada is made convenient thanks to a generous offering of direct flights:

  • Air Canada offers year-round service from Toronto to Zurich up to seven times weekly.
  • SWISS, Air Canada and Air Transat offers year-round service, up to 15 times weekly, from Montreal to Geneva, Zurich and Basil.
  • Edelweiss/SWISS and Air Canada offers seasonal service up to nine times weekly from Vancouver to Zurich (May 21st to Oct. 13th)
  • Edelweiss/SWISS offers a seasonal service two times weekly from Calgary to Zurich (May 30th to Sept. 12th)

“There’s no shortage of seats,” said Tony Celio, manager of specialty sales at Air Canada, referring to Air Canada’s longstanding joint-venture with SWISS International Air Lines, and how passengers can combine SWISS and Air Canada into one seamless journey.  

From left: Pascal Prinz, director of Switzerland Tourism in Canada; Christine Wendland, manager, marketing communications, Canada, Lufthansa Group; Tony Celio, manager of specialty sales, Air Canada

“We’re constantly looking at ways to offer the best product to customers, and having that joint-venture delivers that product,” Celio told PAX

SWISS International Air Lines is part of the Lufthansa group, which gives Air Canada air passengers an added advantage, noted Christine Wendland, a manager of marketing communications for Canada at the Lufthansa Group. 

From best practices to innovations: “We can share that through the Atlantic joint-venture for the benefit of all passengers,” Wendland said. 

Travel agents seeking more information on Switzerland can visit the destination’s trade site here

For trade information on Rail Europe, click here

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