Martin Nydegger, the new CEO of Switzerland Tourism, says his homeland offers tourists the compactness and diversity of a Swiss army knife combined with the reliability of a Swiss watch. No wonder the number of tourists who visit from China, South-East Asia and India has been climbing rapidly over the past four years.
At the beginning of the year, you became the new CEO of Switzerland Tourism. What is Switzerland for you?
Switzerland, my homeland, is a country with an incredible diversity on a very small territory, with breath-taking nature and a mosaic of cultures and traditions. When you travel in Switzerland, in just a few hours you discover a variety of landscapes, new traditions, a new culture. In the morning, you can walk on a glacier and in the afternoon enjoy a cocktail on the lake shore under palm trees. The Swiss army knife is a good metaphor for Switzerland as a tourism destination: very compact and yet diverse, reliable, well organised, it has everything you need and still, it will always surprise you with all the possibilities it can offer.
How did the incentive market develop from Asia?
We started specific activities in this segment with dedicated incentive managers in China, South East Asia and India about 4 years ago. Since then, we have seen annual double-digit growth in both the turnover and the number of incentive trips to Switzerland from the markets of the Asia-Pacific region.
Will the market continue to grow?
Currently we can attract about 150 Switzerland incentive trips from the Asia-Pacific market per year with an average size of 80 to 100 people. We believe that we will be able to increase this figure to over 200 in the next couple of years.
Why is Switzerland the perfect destination for incentives?
The awe-inspiring landscape, combined with world-class infrastructure and services, as well as the legendary Swiss hospitality are key elements of our USP for corporate clients. Short distances between attractions, premium locations for exceptional meetings and events, and the guarantee that everything works like a Swiss watch make it the ideal choice for all meeting/incentive planners.
Can a group visit different destinations in one day?
There is probably no other country that can offer as wide a variety of discoveries and impressions within such short distances as Switzerland. It’s an ideal place for hub and spoke tours. Staying in one area and exploring attractions in other regions without packing and unpacking is really easy, in particular thanks to a very reliable and dense public transportation system. Incentive groups can enjoy a cruise on a lake steamer in the morning, touch eternal snow on the top of a mountain in the afternoon and have dinner in a medieval old town classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
What are the must-sees for clients coming from Asia?
Touching eternal snow and ice high up on our mountains, enjoying a scenic train ride on a line of our legendary Swiss transport system, such as the Bernina or Glacier Express, and having some time for shopping to buy a genuine Swiss watch, a Swiss army knife and some Swiss chocolate.
Where did you last attend a meeting outside your office?
I recently attended a meeting with my colleagues from the executive board of Switzerland Tourism at the Grand Hotel Giessbach. This is a truly exceptional place in the Bernese Oberland, on the shores of Lake Brienz. This hotel, built in 1873, is a jewel among Swiss hotels and a witness to the history of tourism in Switzerland. Surrounded by mountains, forests and alpine meadows, located just above crystal-clear Lake Brienz, it’s an oasis far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and traffic, with its own funicular and framed by the much-celebrated, silver foaming Giessbach Falls. A wonderful place to hold inspiring meetings.