THE Swiss Embassy said without direct flights bridging Switzerland and the Philippines, there will be limited growth in two-way tourism between the two countries.
Deputy Head of Mission Raoul Imbach said despite their embassy noting a 20-percent increase in arrivals, the country remains a distant option for Swiss tourists.
“The Philippines is gaining. At the top is Thailand in Asia because, basically, they get very good deals for flights, they are direct flights. So it is just a matter of convenience. Also the price quality in Thailand is still better than here. Also, the infrastructure is still not good enough here. We have to work on that. Access to places is still a problem,” Imbach said.
He added: “So for Swiss people who come to Philippines or Asia, they go to Thailand because everything is easy. It is well-organized. It is cheap. It has direct flights, so that makes it a bit of an advantage. That is why the Philippines need to work harder to attract not only Swiss, but also any nationality, because the country is not on the normal route.”
Imbach added the Swiss government is still observing the impact of the recently declared state of lawlessness and the terrorist attacks in the southern part of the country before issuing travel advisories.
“No we have not changed our travel advisory. There is always a possibility of some terror attacks anywhere in the Philippines. It is part of it, but really it is not on top of the concerns. It is one of the things that can happen but we have not changed because of Davao,” Imbach said.
“At this moment, we have to see how it develops. People who are interested to do business here, they came and they look at the place, and if they like it they will do it. I do not think at this moment it is a special concern. It is something people keep in mind, but I do not think it is a special concern.”
Meanwhile, there has also been a noted increase in Filipinos traveling to Switzerland for both incentive travels and special-interest tours.
Swiss Tourism Director for Southeast Asia Ivan Breiter said overnight travelers from the Philippines has been steadily growing over the past 10 years with the total number reaching 30,000 last year.
“We see a lot of families travelling to Switzerland. Also special-interest groups, people going on watch tours. We see more and more people doing different experiences, going to the Christmas markets, to snow villages, and doing some winter sports. This is really a growing trend,” Breiter said.
He noted that with the Philippines having one of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia-Pacific region and an increasing number of middle-class families, they are expecting more Filipinos traveling to their country.
“People can afford to travel to Europe. Switzerland is a dream destination for many. It is a good place to start a vacation, especially, if you want to travel individually, because you have the infrastructure, the great train system that brings you from one place to the other,” Breiter said.
The Philippines is Switzerland’s fifth-largest market in Southeast Asia. According to Breiter, their target is another 6-percent to 7-percent growth in arrivals from the Philippines next year.
Image credits: Rodel Alzona