“ Swiss tourism may gain advantage from the disaster ”
After a yr of empty airports, abandoned seashores, cities and lodges, SWI swissinfo.ch met David Ruetz, head of Internationale Tourismus Börse Berlin (ITB) to debate how the tourism trade is waking up from the useless.
This content material was revealed on April 14, 2021 – 09:00
Petra Krimphove, Berlin
David Ruetz from Switzerland led the Internationale Tourismus Börse Berlin (ITB), the most important tourism honest on the planet, since 2003. The tourism professional is satisfied that Switzerland will profit from the burgeoning progress of the tourism trade. The demand for nature holidays and out of doors journey has elevated for the reason that pandemic as individuals search extra security and safety measures whereas touring.
The ITB director, 51, has written a number of books on tourism developments and lectures at German and Austrian universities.
SWI swissinfo.ch: When was the final time the tourism trade was as badly affected as it’s as we speak?
David Ruetz: We’re seeing an excessive model of the scenario we confronted after the September 11 assaults and in the course of the financial disaster of 2008-2009. Terrorist assaults within the Mediterranean – Turkey and Egypt – in addition to these in London, Paris and Madrid have crushed tourism up to now. Nonetheless, that is the primary time this has occurred on a worldwide scale. Everybody within the tourism trade has been affected, from reserving platforms to airways, lodges and small impartial journey companies. And it’s removed from sure that when everybody has been vaccinated there won’t be yet one more virus or disaster looming across the nook.
SWI: In gentle of that, what’s the normal temper within the world journey trade?
DR: The unpredictability of the scenario causes many complications for market gamers. In line with information from the United Nations World Tourism Group (UNWTO), in January 2021, worldwide air journey was down 87% in comparison with January 2020.
SWI: Has the Covid-19 pandemic modified the tourism trade for good?
DR: We’ve commissioned surveys for the German, US and Chinese language markets which point out that there can be an distinctive increase within the trade as soon as the pandemic is over. Shoppers have an enormous want to make up for misplaced alternatives. In 2021, solely 1 / 4 of survey respondents mentioned they weren’t planning a visit. Most of them need to journey once more as soon as attainable.
SWI: Will journey be completely different sooner or later?
DR: The pandemic has pressured us to decelerate. The important thing query is whether or not we actually need to return to the “previous regular”. In 2019, there have been lengthy traces on the Eiffel Tower, dozens of individuals heading to the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland, and Venice was overwhelmed with cruise vacationers. Now the dolphins are recovering the Venetian Lagoon. The “quicker, larger, stronger” needed to cease sooner or later. Flying to Rome for € 5.99 did not make sense, not simply from a enterprise perspective.
It’s troublesome to foretell what is going to occur. From an financial standpoint, tour operators need to construct on their previous successes when individuals’s want to journey is large. We are able to solely hope that two issues will change sooner or later: the primary is that gratitude for the chance to journey will stay; the opposite is that the elevated consciousness of sustainability by Covid-19 will proceed, no less than at a grassroots stage.
SWI: Has the pandemic affected some operators greater than others?
DR: I might say it in another way: the pandemic has opened up alternatives for tour operators who give attention to altering attitudes of their goal teams. Greater than ever, vacationers are on the lookout for corporations with a soul, the place hoteliers reside their values. The developments are “primarily based on worth” and “much less”.
SWI: The Swiss tourism trade has been hit arduous. Guests from Asia and Arab nations had been an necessary pillar of the trade. Learn how to regain their confidence and encourage them to journey once more sooner or later?
DR: It is not my largest fear. Historically, Switzerland has been a dream vacation spot for vacationers from Asia and the Arab States due to what this lovely nation has to supply. As quickly as journey turns into attainable once more, vacationers from these areas would be the first to knock on Switzerland’s doorways. I’m satisfied of that.
On the subject of rebuilding belief, making Roger Federer the “Vacation spot Suisse” model ambassador was a strategically sensible transfer. He embodies that feeling of confidence.
SWI: In line with the ITB World Journey Survey, individuals are extra more likely to journey to Europe and their very own nation. There can be extra sustainable nature and out of doors journey, and far much less enterprise journey. May Switzerland revenue from the disaster in the long run?
DR: Sure, it’s attainable. Sixty-one p.c of respondents in Germany and 91% in China mentioned they need to get pleasure from nature and out of doors holidays extra sooner or later. I believe that is fairly related. Nature and solitude are the order of the day.
SWI: What about metropolis tourism?
DR: City planning has all the time been a serious driver of tourism. On the similar time, I hope and concern that the demand for metropolis journeys will decide up once more. There are some good concepts to counter the overexploitation of sure vacationer websites, developed within the pre-pandemic period. If governments are keen to do it, and they’re, mass tourism might be regulated by purposes and bodily limitations.
SWI: How can Switzerland proceed to compete with its cheaper neighbors like Austria and Germany? Vacationers can hike and ski right here for much less.
DR: It is not only a query of worth. Many Swiss dwelling overseas go to their households and associates at house and spend their holidays with them. Together with trip and enterprise journey, they type one of many three pillars of the tourism trade. The diploma of loyalty can also be very excessive amongst vacationers visiting Switzerland. Relating to our costs, guests profit from a sure exclusivity in Switzerland as a countermeasure to mass tourism.
SWI: Does the pandemic additionally provide Switzerland a possibility to modernize its vacationer infrastructure and reposition itself in the marketplace?
DR: Many corporations have used the locks for renovations, coaching and the event of recent ideas. This downtime was a possibility for some whereas others discovered themselves at a crossroads: ought to they offer up and shut their exercise or danger a brand new begin?
In March 2021, 3,500 exhibitors, media representatives and journey bloggers from 120 nations participated within the ITB occasion, which occurred nearly.
This yr, the main target has been on restarting the trade after the devastating monetary losses suffered because of the Covid-19 disaster.
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