It seems rather fitting that on a snowboarding trip to the Swiss Alps with friends, Pascal Prinz found out that Switzerland Tourism's New York office was hiring.
He'd been working at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Berlin, and before that, at the Swiss Ministry for Economic Affairs in Bern, Switzerland.
"I’m grateful for the wonderful years there, where I learned a lot about economics, politics, public relations, and people," Prinz told PAX. "So, I tried my luck and I applied [to Switzerland Tourism]."
Prinz would go on to stay and work in New York for the tourism board for almost five years.
Fast-forward to now, where Toronto-based Prinz has served as the director of Switzerland Tourism in Canada for the past year and-a-half.
On a daily basis, he's making sure that Canadians are up to speed on all that Switzerland has to offer.
"I manage our relations with tour operators, travel agencies, airlines and strategic partners," Prinz explained. "I enjoy meeting inspiring people across Canada. I am convinced that in our digital world, human relationships and trust are becoming even more important. My role is to be a matchmaker between Canadian travellers and Switzerland."
Here, we check in with Pascal to learn more about the three vacation spots he loves to hike, the Peruvian dish he still dreams about, and the fairly unique way he greets his godson.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Pascal Prinz: I always bring ear plugs, dark jeans and sunglasses.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
Prinz: I loved surfing in Tofino on Vancouver Island. It’s a magical place. People are in sync with nature and themselves.
My home canton in Switzerland, Graubünden, has a special place in my heart. I enjoy hiking and snowboarding there with my wonderful parents, my amazing sister and her adorable kids.
My last trip was to Ecuador hiking to the base camp on Cotopaxi mountain. I enjoyed the humbleness, warmth and the kindness of the Ecuadorian people.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
Prinz: Zurich airport is amazing. I still can’t believe how fast you get your luggage upon arrival and how there’s always a train wherever you want to go right after you land.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
Prinz: I like our beautiful planet and people. I’m a curious person who enjoys learning about other cultures. It makes me feel connected, free and alive.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
Prinz: It was to Rimini on the Italian Adriatic coast with my parents and my sister. The spaghetti and ice-cream were delicious. I learnt how to swim and play bocce. It was during the World Cup. I was in heaven.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
Prinz: To be honest, I am not a big shopper. I'd rather invest in local experiences during my travels that I keep in my heart for a lifetime. Recently, I hiked with a guide to the base camp of Cotopaxi mountain in Ecuador. We drank hot chocolate, shared food and laughed. You always learn from other people.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
Prinz: That’s a tough one, there’s so much delicious food. I still dream of the ceviche in Peru, the Tlayudas in Mexico and the curry in Thailand. In Switzerland, I can’t wait to sample more of our elegant and tasty wine.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
Prinz: I am surprised when some people seem to show little interest in getting to know the local culture. It’s easy. Ask some questions, listen and add a smile. These three elements go a long way.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
Prinz: I let others judge. One is that I can howl like a wolf fairly well. I do it every time when I get to see my godson. We get excited. That’s how we greet each other!
PAX: Checked bag or carry-on?
Prinz: Carry-on. Travelling light is way more fun and liberating. I highly recommend it.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
Prinz: There are many. I laugh at myself a lot.
I flew to Vancouver when I was 23 to learn English. My parents came to visit after a few weeks. We rented a motorhome and drove across B.C. and Alberta. It was spectacular. We even saw bears. We ended our trip in Calgary.
So, we were in this big parking lot with almost no cars. I had already parked the motorhome. I then decided to repark the vehicle. All was going so well and smoothly… until I heard the noise of a big scratch and pole in the mirror that I had absolutely not seen!
In that moment, I thought the world was going to end.
It was all fine. We had ice cream and I finally calmed down. It was just a big scratch. My family and I still laugh about it.
PAX: What are 1-2 things travel agents should be aware of right now in regards to Switzerland?
Prinz: In partnership with Rail Europe and Swiss Travel System, we are launching the Swiss Travel SuperStar Agent program in Canada on May 1, 2019 at agent.raileurope.ca. Travel advisors and tour operators can learn more about Swiss travel products and win fantastic prizes including an exclusive FAM trip with a gala-award celebration in Switzerland.
Switzerland is in high demand. We just reached the best results of Canadians visiting our country in 25 years. Selling Switzerland is easy. On our travel trade corner www.myswitzerland.com/trade, you find great tools to sell it. This year, we focus on hiking with fantastic experiences Canadian travellers will love.
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