Jürg Schmid, CEO of Switzerland Tourism, on the success of the #InLoveWithSwitzerland campaign featuring Ranveer Singh, an ideal holiday to the country and more.
What is your impression of Ranveer Singh?
He’s a charming guy. I had the pleasure of meeting him for coffee when he came to Switzerland. He’s such an open minded, interesting personality — fresh, polite and very professional. We addressed a joint press conference with the Swiss media, which he did very well.
What makes him a great ambassador for Switzerland Tourism in India?
Whenever I have come to India, people have mentioned him to me. The thing with Switzerland is, people know it as a beautiful country, with its greenery, mountains and landscapes. But our country is also thrilling, adventurous and outdoorsy. The image Bollywood has created is true — all those things exist — but we want to now show that there’s so much more to do in winter too. Ranveer was really keen to check out the hiking, biking, water skiing and more, and he loved it. Playing cricket in the snow was his idea, and he showed us how it could be done. His love for Switzerland is so true that you could feel it every moment that he was there. He brought his friends along on his second visit, because he wanted them to experience it too.
Has the popularity of this campaign reflected in sales?
The feedback is great. I’ve met with many of our partners during this trip, and they say the response has been good. There’s 10 per cent growth — which is huge — and we are expecting a record year in India, which has grown to become an important market for us.
What is the best time to go to Switzerland?
Never ask a Swiss this question. We are truly a ‘four seasons’ country. Coincidentally, for most Indian travellers, summer in India — which is the end of spring in Switzerland — is a great time, but winter is such an active and romantic season, with snow-covered landscapes, open wood fireplaces and more. You can try skiing too. Autumn is very nice as well. We have a space in the mountains with trees similar to pine, which turn golden, and you have the whole valley bathed in colour. So when the sun shines, it feels like heaven.
Are Indian tourists coming to Switzerland for different reasons now?
Yes, I am seeing more people coming for gastronomy, wine and the active outdoors. They want to discover and try other things, like hiking and biking. Sports and outdoor activities are arguably more popular with younger tourists, but the definition of ‘younger’ has changed now, because people are fitter. We’ve seen families coming and bungee jumping together, from the 18-year old to the 40-something parent and the 60-something grandparent.
Are people venturing to the lesser-known attractions?
Yes, I know every country has a few popular scenic attractions — for us its Mount Titlis, Jungfraujoch etc. More and more people are now staying for longer and going to the Lake Geneva area for UNESCO World Heritage vineyards, and to the small villages. When it started it was group travel, but now individuals are also coming in. That’s the tourism we think we are made for, because for individuals, it needs to be easy to travel. Here, English is not a problem. It’s also safe, and the trains are premium and easy to travel in.
What is the ideal duration for a holiday in Switzerland?
It’s so hard for me to say. I would want you to experience all four seasons. A week or 10 days would be ideal to cover the hot spots and a few of the hidden secrets. You could travel to the east, where you won’t find too many Indian tourists. Taste the local cuisine, wine and talk to people to find out how they live, what they think. Exchange and learn. It’s more than sightseeing.