Prospects for Switzerland’s long-suffering tourism industry are improving as it welcomes 12,000 Chinese sales people on an incentive trip this month, the single biggest group of visitors in the country’s history.
The tourists, who work for Jeunesse Global, a company distributing cosmetics and health supplements, are expected to generate revenue of $14 million during their stay, said Lien Burkard, a spokeswoman of the national tourism agency.
“This is the biggest tourist group Switzerland has ever seen,” Burkard said.
While the industry is happy about its off-season travelers, the one-time visit required slightly more planning than usual. The group had to be split into three equal parts and staying in three different cities: Basel, Lucerne, and Zurich.
Lucerne, with a population of 80,000, known for its medieval Chapel Bridge and Water Tower, even set up a special traffic plan to manage the crowds. Swiss tabloid Blick reported that the guests were visiting jewelers and watch shops on the central Schwanenplatz square before boarding buses taking them to a gala dinner.
Chinese tourists in Switzerland spend an average 380 francs ($378) a day, compared to 280 francs spend by tourists from the U.S. and 130 francs for Germans, according to Swiss Tourism.
Hotels, restaurants, and ski resorts are benefiting from a pickup in foreign visitors, thanks to a more favorable exchange rate, along with good snowfall and resilient global demand for foreign travel. Last year, Switzerland’s hotels recorded a record 38.8 million in overnight stays.
Besides returns for restaurants and shops, the industry also expects a boost on social media: “We see a great advertising effect thanks to plenty of photos posted on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter,” said Ueli Heer, spokesman of Zurich’s tourism office.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.