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Switzerland highlights culture, gastronomy

Pauline Songco

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The great outdoors of Switzerland, from its alps down to the green pastures, has been growing as a tourist destination of Filipinos in the past four years. Ivan Breiter, director of Switzerland Tourism for Southeast Asia, noted the respective nations’ efforts in building harmonious diplomatic relations.

“It’s a great time to celebrate because four years since we started with the first Switzerland tourism activity in the country, we could almost double the number of Filipinos visiting Switzerland,” Breiter said.

To further bolster their diplomatic relationship with the Philippines, the Swiss government together with the Department of Tourism entered a partnership that includes the promotion of their culture and gastronomy above all others.

HIS Excellency Alain Gaschen (right), Ambassador of Switzerland to the Philippines with Ivan Breiter, director of Switzerland Tourism for Southeast Asia.

The said agreement is eyed to be signed by the end of the year.

Breiter said, “There was a huge increase. We started about four years ago with the first promotional effort. Since then, we almost doubled the number of overnights from more than 20,000 in 2016 to 40,000 in 2018 and almost 45,000 in 2019.”

On the other hand, the Philippines received 31,000 Swiss tourists in 2018.

The Philippines remains to be Switzerland’s fifth strongest market in Asia, closely following its neighboring countries Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Tourists from Germany and Middle East countries top Switzerland’s annual visitors.

“Locally, we have more offers with travel agents and cooperation with the Philippine Travel Agencies Association. We are now developing cooperation with the Philippine tourism authority. The economy of the Philippines is doing very well and now we have a bigger amount of people whose dream destination is Switzerland,” Breiter noted.

Filipinos who want to visit Switzerland are required to have a Schengen visa which, according to Breiter, has become much faster and easier to obtain compared to years ago.

TITLIS Rotair Gondola, Switzerland’s first full rotating cable car.

As for direct flights, he said, “There are talks, definitely. We are in negotiation with different companies, both local and international carriers, that could use this as a potential in having a better connection. This will further increase the interest of both countries.”

However, no time frame has been agreed upon yet by both nations for this undertaking.

Photos from Switzerland Tourism

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