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In 2021, the pandemic once again held the world, and the tourism industry in particular, in its thrall. Switzerland Tourism ST continued its recovery campaign in 2021, with a budget of just under CHF 18.498 million. This consisted of CHF 13.5 million in additional federal government contributions to stimulate demand, as promised by parliament in 2020, CHF 2.5 million of ST’s own funds, CHF 1.923 million that could no longer be used for the 2020 campaign, and CHF 0.575 million from budget reassignment (multi-year projects).
Of the nearly CHF 18.498 million recovery budget for 2021, just under CHF 1.129 million could no longer be used. This remaining amount will be carried over into the 2022 budget.
The funds were mainly used for cross-market projects and short-haul markets (including Switzerland). Of the CHF 18.498 million recovery budget for 2021, just under CHF 1.129 million could no longer be used. This remaining amount will be carried over into the 2022 budget.
Around 79% of the funds were used for cross-market projects and short-haul markets (including Switzerland), with a focus on sustainable tourism and the provision of attractively priced offerings. ST invested the remaining 21% in long-haul market and business event promotion.
Recapturing the short-haul markets
ST enjoyed a lot of high-profile support in attracting new visitors from its short-haul markets in 2021. This included having the explorer Mike Horn on board for the French market. He recorded five short films entitled “La Suisse de Mike Horn” (Mike Horn’s Switzerland), in which he shared his take on Switzerland as a holiday destination. The films have racked up more than 1.6 million views: 50% on Mike Horn’s social media accounts and the other half on ST channels. The campaign generated 82 million marketing contacts.
Presenter Michelle Hunziker, meanwhile, pushed Switzerland’s sustainable side in her adoptive Italian homeland. Her summer films generated 60,000 YouTube views and more than 60 million social media impressions during 2021. The winter films had been viewed more than 150,000 times by the end of 2021, and the cooperation led to 21.1 million media contacts and 64 items in Italian and Swiss media (online, print and radio).
ST opted for a particularly striking marketing tool for the German market. The Pop-up House of Switzerland, located right in the heart of Stuttgart’s pedestrian zone, opened its doors on 2 July. It was organised by Presence Switzerland in close collaboration with ST. Under the Swiss-German motto “So nah, so ufgschtellt, so fein, so zämme, so Schweiz”, the venue, which ran until 31 October 2021, hosted workshops, panel discussions, exhibitions and readings. German would-be travellers were able to obtain on-the-spot advice about visiting Switzerland. The Pop-up House of Switzerland generated a total of 20 million marketing contacts.
City inspiration for the long-haul markets
Many visitors from outside Europe were still unwilling or unable to travel long haul, but the majority were already thinking about what long-distance trips they would like to take next year. To help ensure that Switzerland features on as many holiday bucket lists as possible, the focus of ST’s marketing efforts in the long-haul markets was on inspiring content. For instance, a travel documentary series on the boutique cities of Zurich and Geneva was produced in cooperation with the US broadcasters the Discovery Channel and Outside TV. The award-winning travel journalist Jonathan Thompson shows his compatriots just how high the culinary and cultural standards are in these Swiss cities, and what makes them especially good as a jumping-off point for excursions into the natural world. The series is being broadcast between November 2021 and June 2022 and is expected to generate 80 million impressions.
The Swisstainable movement
In order to preserve Switzerland’s natural wonders, ST has set itself no less an objective than to position the country as the most sustainable destination in the world. The Swisstainable movement was launched in conjunction with the entire Swiss tourism sector. By the end of 2021, 649 businesses were already enrolled in the programme. ST presented the first sustainable tourism products during the summer, including the summer GA travelcard promoting environmentally friendly travel. More than 10,400 of these special travelcards were snapped up. The Swisstainable Experience Shop developed by ST also made it possible to book a range of very diverse sustainable holiday experiences directly.
Marketing cities to European women
As in 2020, tourism service providers in cities were hit especially hard by the pandemic. Although the important area of business events showed some slight signs of recovery, this initially only related to smaller meetings. Visitors from many long-haul markets, who accounted for large numbers of hotel overnight stays pre-pandemic, were either unable to travel at all or faced restrictions. For these reasons, ST concentrated its offer marketing on visitors from Europe, who tend to plan their travel at rather shorter notice. For example, the Six in the City campaign specifically addressed female European travellers, drawing on the US TV series Sex and the City. The trailer was published on social media and other digital channels, notching up more than 3.9 million YouTube views and a total of 65 million impressions. The landing page MySwitzerland.com/sixinthecity detailed activities, packages and offers around wellness, art and sport that were geared to the six female protagonists.
Roger Federer, brand ambassador
The pandemic posed a historic challenge for the tourism sector. ST had just the right man for the job in the shape of Roger Federer, tennis idol and 20-time Grand Slam champion. Federer officially joined the ST team in April 2021, becoming a long-term brand ambassador with the aim of bringing in new visitors from around the world to sample Switzerland’s nature in all its restorative glory.
The partnership with Federer had long been planned, even before the pandemic came along. However, the federal recovery funds enabled the campaign to be put into place much more intensively and on a larger international stage. The scale is unlike any ST campaign ever seen before. The scorecard after the first year is more than positive: the campaign has generated nearly 1,300 media stories and 1.4 billion media contacts, thanks also to the short film No Drama, and 559 million top advertising and marketing contacts. That is on top of 0.55 million page views of MySwitzerland.com/roger.
CHF 6.7 million in relief contributions for tourism partners
On top of the federal funds allocated directly to ST, parliament assigned a further CHF 6.7 million, which went to a total of 971 tourism partners. The allocation is based on tourism partners’ contributions to ST’s marketing in 2019. Payments are also made to tourism partners that took part in ST’s marketing activities in 2020 and 2021, but not 2019. This rewards their contribution to ST’s marketing during the Covid-19 pandemic. The average contributions for 2020 and 2021 are used as the measurement basis.