Pascal Prinz, Switzerland Tourism, Rares Dumitru, RailEurope, and Simona Cercel Air Canada.
Rehberger-Weg Park displays an impressive larger than life Eames chair, called High Perch.
When the snow begins to thaw on the Swiss Alps, locals and tourists alike strap on their hiking boots, grab their walking poles, maps or apps, and set off to become one with nature.
This is the ‘Year of Hiking’ in Switzerland and the focus is on experiencing the unique features and efficiency of hiking a diverse network of trails -- 65,000 km of them, lovingly maintained by 1500 volunteers. Manager, Media Relations North America for Switzerland Tourism, Ursula Beamish-Mader jokes: “There are 50,000 sign posts - you cannot get lost in Switzerland!” The Swiss are known for their punctuality and organizational traits, so why should hiking be any different?
The infrastructure has been established for decades. The convenience and reliability of Rail Europe’s Swiss Travel Pass will transport customers by rail, bus or boat with ease and convenience to many hiking trails along the network. According to Rares Dumitru, Regional Sales Director for Rail Europe, the Swiss Travel Pass is the top seller in North America and is now available electronically so customers need not worry about losing a hard-copy ticket.
Switzerland is also seeing an increased lift to Zurich, Geneva and Basel in 2019. Director of Switzerland Tourism Pascal Prinz presented the following statistics at the Best of Switzerland presentation in Toronto:
YYZ-ZRH Up to 7 times weekly on AC year-round
YUL-GVA/ZRH/BSL Up to 15 times weekly year-round on AC, TS and LX
YVR-ZRH Up to 9 times weekly seasonal on LX/Edelweiss (WK) and AC from 21MAY-13OCT
YYC-ZRH 2 times weekly seasonal on LX/Edelweiss (WK) and AC from 30MAY – 12SEP
Even though the travel industry has seen a decline in First Class travel worldwide, with aircraft redesigned to accommodate more premium economy and fewer first class seats, Christine Wendland, Manager, Marketing Communications for Lufthansa Group, stressed that Swiss International Airlines continues to offer First Class on all its long-haul flights.
“Everything we do on the ground and in the air reflects traditional Swiss values,” Wendland said, adding that Swiss differentiates itself from competitors by providing the highest quality, whether it is inviting executive chefs to create meals for First Class customers to the elegant design of Swiss airport lounges.
Tourism representatives from Zurich, Basel and Ticino highlighted the diversity of their respective regions, from paved city walking paths to rugged alpine mountain tracks.
This summer, Zurich will be a buzz of activity with many events and festivals. For theatre lovers, there’s the 40th Anniversary of "Zürcher Theater Spektakel," while for foodies, Food Zurich is Europe’s third largest culinary festival with over 150 events over 11 days from 16-26MAY.
To the far north, along the Swiss-Germany border, Basel is a region sprinkled with urban parks designed like art installations. An example of this is the Rehberger-Weg which is five kilometres and features 24 stops or waymarkers, each with its own unique functional art object such as bee hives, bird houses and binoculars.
Basel Tourism’s Anneke Geyer shared her passion for art in the region and noted Basel is among three major international cities to host Art Basel, the largest art show in the world, set this year for 13-16JUN.
In Ticino, the southern region of Switzerland, where the culture, food and official language is Italian, visitors can hike along Lake Lugano, enjoy botanical gardens and paths lined with olive trees or visit medieval villages that are completely electricity–free and run on solar energy in the summer months. Veronica LaFranchi, Country Manager for Ticino Turismo noted that the region also produces a unique White Merlot wine.
Karen Dahdah Columnist
An avid traveller, adventure seeker and travel expert for over 15 years, Karen has toured over 35 countries around the world. She shares her first-hand knowledge of unique and off the beaten path destinations including hidden gems in Asia, adrenaline-rushing African safaris, and the fascinating culture of French Polynesia.