Tourism: Switzerland expects more Indians, UAE’s Ethihad Airways Appoints Neerja Bhatia as new VP for India
The push for attracting Indian tourists is on by international agencies and players as evident in the initiatives of Switzerland Tourism and UAE’s national airline Ethihad Airways. Switzerland is looking to increase the count of Indian tourists by at least 25 percent, starting with the winter season. To achieve the target, it launched a slew of initiatives to promote itself as a year-round destination. Switzerland Tourism Director India Claudio Zemp told PTI that "we are aiming at a growth of up to 25 percent in 2015. It will be much more than in the previous year. We are extremely happy with the growth of 25% we have from January to July this year," In 2014, Switzerland received a total of 7,50,000 overnight stays from Indian visitors in hotels and service apartments. There was a major uptick from FIT (individual travellers) segment and people staying in service apartments, he claimed. For the winter, Switzerland Tourism is promoting the country as a destination for winters, with snow offering "a very different experience". "We are really going to start working with lots of tour operators to start packages for winter holidays. We are strongly looking at soft sport packages such as sledging," Zemp added. Switzerland Tourism has unveiled 'Grand Tour of Switzerland', a 1,600 km-long road trip linking the country's most popular tourist and natural destinations in a single scenic journey. Switzerland is positioning itself as a year-round destination. On the new initiatives, he said: "It is really important for us to highlight that Switzerland is a year-round destination rather than a place where you go only in May and June." India is the 10th largest source market for Switzerland and the second in Asia after China. Globally, Germany, the UK and the US are its biggest markets. Switzerland Tourism is a federal corporation with the mission is to promote the country as a holiday, travel and conference destination both at home and abroad. Meanwhile, Etihad Airways has appointed Neerja Bhatia to the position of Vice President India and Indian Sub-Continent. Etihad Airways currently operates flights from Abu Dhabi to eleven destinations in India: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Thiruvananthapuram. She has been with Etihad since 2004, starting as Sales Manager Western India, shortly after the airline launched its flights to Mumbai, its first Indian destination. Bhatia then progressed to become Manager for Western and Southern India, before being appointed as General Manager India in 2007.