ZURICH, Switzerland -- In these uncertain times, some types of
tours sell better, and particular types of clients are more prone
to travel -- world crises or no world crises.
Recognizing that special-interest and, in particular, high-end
travel is proving more resilient and reliable than mass-market
touring, Swiss tourism officials are cobbling together niche
itineraries to promote to consumers, agents and operators.
Last month, Switzerland Tourism offices in the U.S. began
promoting its new Luxury and Design theme route, the first of three
such programs to be launched through next year.
A new gastronomy-and-wine route will follow this fall, and an
art-and-architecture itinerary is in the works for 2004.
"We have an immense variety of spectacular tourist attractions
within a very small area," said Jurg Schmid, CEO of Switzerland
"That makes our country extremely attractive for so-called theme
routes -- one of the really major trends in travel."
Capitalizing on its ritzy reputation,
Switzerland launched the Luxury and Design program with a 72-page
brochure highlighting the finest hotels, most elegant shops and
best restaurants across the country's most scenic routes.
Urs Eberhard, director for North America at the Swiss tourist
board, described negotiations with Virtuoso-affiliated specialist
agencies and tour operators to develop related product and a
consumer campaign as "well advanced."
"Very soon Virtuoso agencies will be able to sell the whole
route or parts of it as packages," he added.
"We will launch a targeted ... campaign to create interest and,
hopefully, many bookings."
For his part, Schmid said the decision was inspired by consumer
inquiries and Switzerland's "long tradition in this particular
Not that Switzerland is for the rich alone, Schmid cautioned;
the theme routes also can be of use to any traveler.
"The luxury-and-design route is available to everyone. There is
no need to stay in the finest hotels or shop in the most
fashionable boutiques -- you can simply look at them, as well," he
The new Luxury and Design route wends its way in an arc from
Geneva in the southwest, via Lausanne, Gstaad, Interlaken, Lucerne
and Zurich, to the chic ski resort of St. Moritz.
Recommendations along the way run the gamut from specific
accommodations such as the Grand Hotel Quellenhof in Bad Ragaz to
entire regions, such as the Watch Valley area in the Jura
City dossiers include accommodations, museums, restaurants,
shopping, clubbing, health and wellness, event and insider tips --
and even ideas for rainy days. "Our brochure will help [clients] on
their way with ... a couple of top-class surprises," said
Further details on all three theme routes are available on line
at www.myswitzerland.com. For copies of the brochure,
call (877) 794-8037.