By Caroline Scutt
NEW YORK -- The Geneva Tourist Office wants to change the U.S.
market's perception that Geneva, and all of Switzerland, is an
expensive vacation destination.
The tourist office also is again offering a number of themed
weekend Value Packages, commissionable at 15%, to entice travelers
and travel agents to book Geneva.
Although the number of U.S. visitors has steadily dropped over
recent years, Geneva is banking on the increased strength of the
U.S. dollar to bring people back, said Marc Grangier, manager of
communications for the Geneva Tourist Office.
At press time, $1 was equivalent to 1.36 Swiss francs.
Grangier also said that Swiss prices have remained relatively
Approximately 200,000 U.S. tourists visited Geneva last year,
down from 250,000 six years ago, he said.
The city is aiming to increase the number of U.S. visitors by
about 10% in 1997.
In order to reach that goal, the tourist office is trying to get
the word out through print ads and agent seminars that Switzerland
For example, according to an independent study conducted in
Europe last year, the rack rate of a Hilton hotel room is lower in
Geneva than in Paris; London; Brussels, Belgium, or Amsterdam,
Netherlands, he said.
The same study revealed that a cup of espresso can cost $3 in
New York and $2 in Geneva; a local beer costs about $4 in the Big
Apple and $2.80 in Geneva.
In response to the success of the Value Packages, which were
introduced last year, the Geneva Tourist Office created a number of
programs for 1997.
The packages are a way to demonstrate that "more goes on in
Geneva than just business," he said.
About 70% of travelers to the city are on business, and the
average stay is about 2.5 days, he added.
The weekend packages offer clients the choice of level of
accommodations and length of stay (one, two or three nights).
Rates start at about $78 per night at a two-star hotel and about
$111 at a five-star property.
Children's rates are available.
The cost includes breakfast, taxes, public transportation
passes, a city tour and coupon booklet.
Some of the themed packages feature the Geneva Festival (valid
Aug. 8 to 10); the Amadeus Festival (valid Sept. 4 to 13); the
Geneva Weekend, a la Carte (available throughout the year), and the
International Fair for Books and Press plan (valid April 30 to May
For more information, call (011) 41-229 297-000; fax (011)