Mark Wettstein, director Australia and New Zealand with Switzerland Tourism, says not all agents are confident selling train journeys. ‘We want to change that, we want to show agents how easy it is for their clients to experience a scenic train in Switzerland.’ The message is likely to pay off for agents who embrace it – last year 66% of the growing number of Kiwis who visited the small European nation travelled by train while they were there. Some 140 agents attended the Swiss roadshow event at Grand Mercure Auckland last night and Wettstein says he was ‘blown away’ by the response. ‘The event sold out in less than a week,’ he says.
Clients too are keen to become more familiar with the nation. Numbers of overnights increased by 2.2% in 2017 (total of 41,000 overnights) and 35% of NZ visitors stayed four nights or more. ‘They really come to experience the country, stay in mountain resorts and visit the boutique towns. While getting on the rails was a major part of the message last night, Wettstein also encouraged agents to learn more about Christmas and the winter in general (more and more Kiwis visited for skiing) and promoted campaigns such as Nature Wants You Back, pop up hotels in 11 cities around the country and Taste My Swiss City – a series of food and drink tours based on recommendations by locals. Dana Riley, senior account manager of SWISS, says the airline is promoting a new way to Zurich – via Chicago with same day connections with Air New Zealand from November.