Switzerland Tourism is taking its show on the road, with a multi-city series of Canadian events dedicated to welcoming travellers back to the Playground of Europe.
The Toronto stop for the tour, which is also visiting Montreal and Vancouver this week, saw Swiss partners and travel media gathered on the Sky Club patio to enjoy sweeping city views, snacks, and all things Switzerland on Wednesday night (June 1).
A return to Switzerland
Switzerland is ready for the return of travellers, with no COVID testing or quarantine restrictions required for entry.
“We went from a record year in 2019 to basically minus 90 per cent and now we are recovering,” Pascal Prinz, director for Switzerland Tourism in Canada, told PAX.
The flight schedule for SWISS International Air Lines, Lufthansa Group, and Air Canada is back to 95 per cent of its 2019 frequency, with direct flights to Zurich and Geneva available from Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver.
“There are 30 weekly flights from Canada to Switzerland, so let's fill them,” said Prinz. “If you need nature, if you need culture, if you need wine, we are an amazing destination.”
Sustainability is top of mind for many travellers when planning trips this year, and it was a theme of several announcements made at last night’s event.
In December 2022, Switzerland’s GoldenPass train line will launch a new rail route called the GoldenPass Express, directly connecting Montreux and Interlaken.
“Before, you had to transfer on another train and now it's only one train, so it's perfect. [It takes you] from the French-speaking part [of the country] to the German-speaking part,” said Prinz. “[It travels] from wine country to the outdoor capital. It's very scenic.”
The route is a convenient addition to the country’s extensive rail system which, Prinz noted, offers a way for visitors to minimize their carbon footprint when travelling through Switzerland.
“I think it's a very easy way you can make contributions while you travel, and you feel good and you meet local people,” said Prinz. “It's also very good for our planet, so take the train.”
Prinz added that train travel is also a budget-friendly way for travellers to explore the country, with the eight-day Swiss Travel Pass reduced in price by 20 per cent this year.
“Everything is getting more expensive. Now in Switzerland, the Swiss Travel Pass is getting 20 per cent more affordable,” Prinz noted.
Those looking for a luxe experience, however, have the option to travel in the GoldenPass’s Prestige class for roomier seats, larger windows for taking in the views, and meal service.
Additionally, SWISS is poised to soon become the first airline in the world to use solar aviation fuel.
Developed in partnership with the Synhelion company, the fuel uses concentrated solar heat to produce carbon-neutral kerosene.
The airline looks to make a significant step forward in making air travel more sustainable with the introduction of this fuel in 2023.
Other announcements made last night included the launch of a new SpaceCamp in Lucerene.
Set at a station, 3,020 metres above sea level, on Titlis mountain, the camp will offer visitors views of the surrounding glacial landscape and into space through both day and nighttime programming.
More details about the SpaceCamp are set to be released at the end of the month.
Travel is back
“Travel is back. We can travel again,” said Prinz.
Speaking to PAX, Brendan Shashoua, director of sales Canada for Lufthansa Group, said pre-bookings for summer are “very strong.”
“We’re close to 2019 in the outlook,” said Shashoua. “We always say to agents to tell their customers: don't wait until the last moment to book. If you wait, at a certain point, you're not going to have any seats.”
As the country prepares to welcome back travellers, Switzerland Tourism is also debuting a free digital platform called MySwitzerland Pro which aims to help tour operators and travel advisors find deals on accommodation, train tickets, and other experiences.
“The last few years have been difficult and I will be very honest, there were moments when I felt sad, depressed, heavy. But travel is so good for mental health. So go out and travel. Go to Switzerland,” said Prinz.
For destination updates and itinerary ideas, visit here.