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Thursday,  June 13, 2024 4:04 AM 

Switzerland to Canada: “We are the original winter”

Switzerland to Canada: “We are the original winter”
Ursula Beamish-Mader, manager, media relations North America, Switzerland Tourism; Evelyn Lafone, director Canada, trade manager Central USA, Switzerland Tourism & Patrick Oberson, director, head of SWISS Canada, Swiss International Airlines
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

After a day where humidity had Toronto melting into the sidewalks, Switzerland Tourism invited trade partners to cool off with a downtown dinner presentation for its winter launch.

Nearly 60 agents and suppliers came out to attend the event, which centered on the key wintertime tourism attractions taking place in and around the Swiss Alps - and was appropriately located at Toronto’s own highest peak: the CN Tower.

“A Swiss winter is very different from a North American winter,” Evelyn Lafone, director Canada, trade manager Central USA, Switzerland Tourism told PAX. “We have a longer history of winter traditions, and of course, we have our mountains.”

“A Swiss winter is also not as cold as a Canadian winter,” Ursula Beamish-Madler, manager, media relations North America, Switzerland Tourism chimed in. “Our temperature is quite moderate, even in the wintertime.”

While Canadian winters have their own set of traditions, they argued, a Swiss winter offers a wide variety of historical and culturally rich traditions, which can make for a nice change for ski enthusiasts looking for a change of scenery.

“It’s not about just the winter sports – there’s a lot of other things to appeal to Canadians,” Beamish-Madler added, listing the country’s wellness spas, Christmas markets, Swiss raclette and museums as popular alternatives to hitting the slopes.

“The traditional Canadian winter breaks also fall during our shoulder season, so we can offer very attractive prices during that time for Canadians.”

Among the highlights lending distinction to the destination were its inclusive Swiss Pass, the soon-to-be-finished Gotthard Base Tunnel, the announcement of Switzerland’s 2017/18 tourism theme “Back to Nature,” and the upcoming “Great Swiss Road Trip,” a North America-wide travel show scheduled to feature 40 Swiss partners and kick off in Toronto next April 4, 2017.

“Canada is a very stable, strong market, with about 250,000 overnights this past year,” Lafone said of the market’s importance to the destination. “Pricewise, we compete with Western Canada and the top ski resorts in the U.S., and it’s also easily accessible, with direct flights available with multiple carriers.”

Swiss International Airlines was present to support Switzerland Tourism, showcasing its new 777 long-haul aircraft flying to Zurich from Montreal during the presentation. Ski professional Chris Robinson, founder of Double Black Diamond Productions, also took the stage to share his tips for Canadians travelling to Switzerland in the winter (don’t just go to ski. Explore the culture, the nature – the food!).

“It’s a whole lifestyle for us, being outdoors in the wintertime,” Lafone said. “Our mountains are very close to the cities, so you can shop in the morning, ski in the afternoon, or vice versa! We have so much to offer.”

Just prior to a scenic dinner overlooking the Toronto skyline, guests were also treated to the Canadian premiere of the tourism board’s newest promotional video, featuring the winsome, life-hacking Bruno, his skiing stunt double, and the smoothly persuasive phrase: “Switzerland: Because you can, but you don’t have to.”

Notable Events & Attractions for 2017/18

  • Dec 2016 – The opening of Gotthard Base Tunnel, a railway tunneling through the Swiss Alps
  • Jan 7-14, 2017: Belalp Witches’ Race
  • Feb 6-19, 2017: St. Mortitz AUDI FIS Alpine World Ski Championships
  • April 4, 2017: Road to Switzerland promotional show
  • The recently-opened Thrill Walk cliff path in Birg
  • The Bernina Express train route from Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano in Italy

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