Interview: China's visa-free policy for Switzerland to boost tourism

  • World
  • Wednesday, 31 Jan 2024

by Martina Fuchs

GENEVA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- China's newly-announced visa-free policy for Switzerland should boost tourism flows between the two countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a top Swiss executive said on Monday.

"As the National Tourism Board of Switzerland, we of course welcome any removal of barriers that makes it easier to travel," Daniela Chiani, director for Greater China at Switzerland Tourism, told Xinhua in a virtual interview.

"2023 was largely a transition year after the pandemic. We are very much looking forward to 2024, the first normal year after 2019. We expect right now around 1 million to 1.2 million overnight stays from Greater China in 2024, or around 65 percent of the 2019 levels," Chiani said.

According to Switzerland Tourism, Chinese tourists spent the most before the pandemic, shelling out an average of 380 Swiss francs (440 U.S. dollars) per person per day.

In 2019, Chinese guests made 1.8 million overnight stays in Switzerland, making them the fourth-largest market for the country.

On Jan. 15, China announced it would apply a unilateral visa-free policy to Switzerland. Meanwhile, the Swiss side will provide more visa facilitation for Chinese citizens, as well for as Chinese enterprises investing in Switzerland.

On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Switzerland next year, the two countries will seize the opportunity to strengthen people-to-people exchanges, Chinese Premier Li Qiang and President of the Swiss Confederation Viola Amherd said after a meeting in the Swiss capital Bern earlier this month.

Before the pandemic, the landlocked Alpine nation of more than eight million people ranked among Chinese tourists' favorite destinations in both summer and winter.

Asked about new initiatives targeting the Chinese market this year, Chiani said: "Through the years of the pandemic, Chinese consumers' tastes have diversified a lot. We want to make sure that we target all the different needs with different campaigns. It's going to be digital and it's going to be interactive."

Switzerland Tourism is the country's national marketing and sales organization, with 35 offices in 23 countries. It has been present in China for 26 years.

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