Switzerland Reports 11.5 Percent Increase in U.S. Visitors for 2010
At the Swiss Travel Mart (STM) in Geneva, Switzerland Tourism unveiled the latest tourism numbers from the U.S. for 2010. Alex Herrmann, director-Americas for Switzerland Tourism, said U.S. travelers spent 1.5 million room nights in Switzerland in 2010, up 8.9 percent compared to 2009. The number of U.S. visitor arrivals in Switzerland 2010 was 680,000, up 11.5 percent. Herrmann said this brought visitor numbers from the U.S. back to 2008 levels, but that still trailed 2007. U.S. visitors also spend an average of 2.2 hotel nights in the country in 2010.
The U.S., according to Herrmann, is the third most important foreign market for Switzerland, after Germany and the United Kingdom. The top five most-visited Swiss destinations by U.S. travelers in 2010 were Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, Basel and Zermatt. Switzerland includes both business and leisure travelers in its statistics. Herrmann said 2011 was off to a strong start, with arrivals from the U.S. up 8.7 percent and overnights up 6 percent. At the same time, he said Switzerland Tourism faced challenges because of the high value of the Swiss franc and against the U.S. dollar.
Separately, Switzerland Tourism said it will launch a revamped travel agent educational course online later this summer. The online course will focus more on the specialized needs of travel agents, according to Andrea Knecht, Switzerland Tourism's manager of trade relations, but agents will be tested online on their knowledge. Those agents who pass the course will become certified Switzerland specialists, have access to educational fam trips to the country and will get consumer referrals from Switzerland Tourism's website. The trade portion of Switzerland Tourism's website also will be revamped by July, according to Knecht.
Finally, at a small ceremony before the opening of the STM, Switzerland Tourism named Harry Dalgaard, president of Avanti Destinations in Portland, Ore., as winner of its Gold Flower award. The award is made to the U.S. tour operator who best supports Switzerland Tourism. For more information on Switzerland, visit www.myswitzerland.com.