There’s icy champagne inside. Round, red leather armchairs are grouped around it. And of course the windows are darkened. Looks a little dodgy, that VIP gondola.
Tourists also hesitate then who should climb the hut first. But then the rock stars of Las Vegas (USA) Imagine Dragons come in. The previous night, tens of thousands of fans got high at their concert in Bern, now they are leaving for Jungfraujoch in the Bernese Oberland.
The Americans are back. Not only bands on world tours, but also regular tourists in the USA. Whether on the Swiss peaks, in front of the Louvre in Paris, at Neuschwanstein Castle or on the Spanish Steps in Rome, the groups in baseball caps and sneakers are not to be missed this summer and usually cannot be ignored.
Hungry for travel, they throw themselves into the holiday season. This trend will continue for many years to come, says Paolo Meineri, an agent for the global tour operator EF, which organizes group and language tours exclusively for Americans.
Imagine Dragons enjoys Züri Gschnätzlets
With the break in Corona, Americans’ vacation trunks are well stocked, and with the modest ten days of vacation a year regular workers get, many now have free time for a longer journey. They also want to compensate for the hardships of the last two years.
Due to the general increase in prices, as the dollar is strong but the euro is weaker, a vacation in your home country is no longer much cheaper for US citizens than “Best of Europe”. Meineri rarely sells a week in Switzerland, but three Switzerland days in a package with Italy, France and Germany hit the spot.
Meanwhile, Daniel Platzman and Ben McKee, drummer and bassist of Imagine Dragons, admire the panorama, rösti and Züri-Gschnätzlets on “Top of Europe”. “Anyone who can somehow will go,” explain the members of SonntagsBlick. Urs Kessler, the head of the Jungfrau railroad, tanned, always ready with a smile and an anecdote.
His motto: Show people the «product». Here are the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau – and Kessler’s youngest child, the new V-Bahn, the largest giant child in the alpine tourism industry, which has cost half a billion Swiss francs and catapults the lowlands from Grindelwald to the Eiger Glacier in 15 minutes. At the terminal in Grindelwald, the guest wants to check in at Kloten ZH.
More guys for the yoke
It was at Thailand’s Bangkok airport in the spring of 2020 that Kessler realized that this virus from China would be a bigger box. The record-breaking year 2019 is behind him, followed by a hasty flight home and the largest savings program in the history of Jungfrau. “Of the 900 employees, 600 were working part-time,” he recalls, “over 90 percent of customers were absent during the pandemic.”
But now many Swiss have discovered the yoke first. Before it seemed crowded and expensive. Suddenly, there were also some decent discounts. During the crisis years, 250 percent more Swiss people visited the yoke than before. He is grateful to them, says Kessler. But the local tourists themselves “could never compensate the international visitors.” In addition, the Swiss are now returning to the seaside.
Jungfrau is not in the Mediterranean Sea. It seems that the crisis in tourism is over for now. “America is growing fast, America is thriving,” says Kessler cheerfully. The booking status of US guests is already higher than in 2019, when they accounted for around ten percent of the over a million visitors.
Like Doug, Morgan and Berta Miller with son-in-law Kevin Myers from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, who admired the Neuschwanstein pump before going to Jungfraujoch and recalled their boys’ victory on the beaches of Normandy, France. “Everyone wants to go to Europe. Putin does not worry us, ”explain the Americans.
Or Tino, Holly, and Janice from Atlanta, Georgia, who actually think “Swiss prices are okay,” while Hawaii was quite expensive. Your weaker: Planes flying to the old continent are already too crowded. Aviation is also harassing Jungfrau Railways chief Kessler: “The demand from abroad would be huge, but not everyone can travel, there are no direct flights, especially from Asia.” Another problem is that Indian tourists currently have to wait eight weeks for a Swiss visa. The yoke day still resembles rush hour in Mumbai.
The Grandhotel National, a five-star hotel in Lucerne, is also very busy, and soon every other guest is coming from the USA. “We already have more Americans than Swiss,” says CEO Gabriel Stucki. They make up over 40 percent of the audience.
“Great guests,” the hotelier raves about Americans, “who want to experience things, shop, eat out, enjoy – as if they were saving five francs every hour during the crisis years.”
In fact, Americans spend an above-average amount, CHF 280 a day, according to Sibylle Gerardi of Lucerne Tourism: “After a break from the trip to Covid and the budget saved, there should probably be more now.” For comparison: the Swiss released about half a jump, 165 francs a day. According to Gerardi, eleven percent of visitors to Lucerne are from the US. Americans are almost back to pre-crown levels, says Raymond Hunziker, president of Central Switzerland and Lucerne Hotels. Americans have always been the largest foreign clientele, “significantly ahead of the Chinese market, which is attracting much more attention.”
The Chinese and the Russians are the big absentees this year. Martin Nydegger, head of Switzerland Tourism, hopes for transparency in the fall. Then there are elections to the Chinese Congress. “The Chinese will definitely come back,” he believes, “so the same catch-up effect as that of the Americans plays a role.”
Travel to Switzerland
Summer vacation will begin soon. After two years of crisis, the Schweizer family finally want to travel again. But where is this journey going? According to travel agencies Hotelplan, Tui and Kuoni, Greece and Spain are the most popular holiday destinations this summer. It is followed by Turkey, followed by Italy and the USA. Cyprus, Canada, Egypt, Portugal and the Maldives are also very popular. Of course, the Swiss are also drawn to neighboring countries. Only mostly on their own without a travel agency. In Europe, you can usually move freely without corona vaccinations. There are no restrictions in Greece, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Austria, Cyprus and the Maldives. In some cases, however, unvaccinated people need to be tested, e.g. in France, Portugal or Egypt. Proof of vaccination is still mandatory for vacations in the US or Canada. However, for a week now, you no longer need to show a negative corona test result to enter the US. Masks are no longer compulsory on airplanes.
Summer vacation is about to begin. After two years of crisis, the Schweizer family finally want to travel again. But where is this journey going? According to travel agencies Hotelplan, Tui and Kuoni, Greece and Spain are the most popular holiday destinations this summer. It is followed by Turkey, followed by Italy and the USA. Cyprus, Canada, Egypt, Portugal and the Maldives are also very popular. Of course, the Swiss are also drawn to neighboring countries. Only mostly on their own without a travel agency. In Europe, you can usually move freely without corona vaccinations. There are no restrictions in Greece, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Austria, Cyprus and the Maldives. In some cases, however, unvaccinated people need to be tested, e.g. in France, Portugal or Egypt. Proof of vaccination is still mandatory for vacations in the US or Canada. However, for a week or so, you no longer need to show a negative corona test result to enter the US. Masks are no longer compulsory on airplanes.
Overtourism and compaction stress
Charterhouse Ittingen in Thurgau: far and far away not long distance travelers but many local retirees. Here, Swiss marketers go to seclusion to devise new strategies. The mood in Switzerland Tourism is just right. A commercial in Switzerland with Roger Federer and actress Anne Hathaway recently surpassed the 100 million viewer mark.
“The Ukrainian war rarely appears in the minds of Americans,” explains Nydegger. In addition to Americans, mainly Swiss and other Europeans are expected in 2022, according to an in-house industry research on the tourism industry. Compared to 2019, Nydegger hopes to be 85 percent fully utilized this year.
However, the state of 2019, super-tourism and the stress of congestion, are still poorly remembered. You need “frequencies and guests of an order of magnitude at this time,” says Nydegger, “but not all in the same place and at the same time.” Those who come to Switzerland for the first time want to see the highlights. But for “recurring” tourists, including 45 percent. guests from Switzerland, Nydegger means the year-round season. Instead of visiting the Chapel Bridge during the summer vacation, it could be a November holiday in Ticino.
Imagine Dragons set off on a journey back to Jungfraujoch. They have already played eleven times in Switzerland. “But we finally have time to see this country,” marveled drummer Platzman and bassist McKee. In line with the new tourism concept, they should visit lesser-known places on their next visit. Olten OO or Wallisellen ZH.