Switzerland Tourism Markets East Head Simon Bosshart (PNA photo by Ma. Teresa P. Montemayor)

MANILA – The Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines on Monday launched a tourism program that aims to strengthen the European nation’s ties with the Philippines toward innovation and sustainability through travel.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Switzerland Tourism Markets East Head Simon Bosshart said Manila is one of the four cities worldwide in which they had planned to establish “an antenna” by the end of 2023.

The three other cities include Riyadh (early 2023), Tel Aviv (mid-2023), and Mexico (end of 2023).

“We try to get some economic data, micro economic data of all the cities where we went really, we try to go over all cities globally to look at things like the size of middle class to upper class, like expenditure on travelling, willingness to go abroad and so on,” he said.

From these 901 metropolitan areas worldwide, Simon said the list was downsized to 160 countries with population capable of travelling to Switzerland.

Using the “economic power of Zurich” as a benchmark, he said the number of countries was filtered down to 140.

“On top of this list, there’s New York, Shanghai, Moscow, Tokyo and so on, so all these cities, we’re already present. What we decided is we’re not going to open new offices in countries where we are already present,” he said.

“And on this list of 140 countries, Manila was actually really top, number one of the cities which we did not yet touch,” he added.

Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen said with more Filipinos travelling to Switzerland and Swiss people travelling to the Philippines, “growth and further investments from both sides could be expected”.

Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen (PNA photo by Ma. Teresa P. Montemayor)

“We have a whole range of sectors where we think that there is a potential for growth and basically, this includes health, pharmaceutical, transportation, railway, and many other sectors,” he said.

When asked about the best time for Filipinos to visit Switzerland, Gaschen said it would be the winter season from November to January especially if skiing is part of their travel goals.

“Because Filipinos like the cold and the Swiss we come here because it’s warm and Filipinos travel to Switzerland because it’s cold,” he said. “So, I would say around Christmas where the decoration is nicely put and we have markets on different places."

Gaschen advised that a visa is needed to travel to Switzerland, but travelers need not worry about Covid-19 testing, quarantine, and other restrictions.

“We actually don’t have quarantine, and the testing may depend on the airlines but it’s easy. You just wear the mask on the plane,” he said.

In celebration of its 65 years of diplomatic relations, the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines is holding a three-day exhibit titled “Building the Future Together – A Swiss Innovation Exhibit” at the Grand Hyatt Manila, Bonifacio Global City from Oct. 24 to 26.

The exhibit seeks to showcase Switzerland’s efforts in the field of innovation and sustainability to determine how the Philippines and Switzerland can continue to build the future together. (PNA)