Switzerland has a very good reputation in India and remains one of the top destinations for Indian travellers, whether for a honeymoon, to explore the locations of it’s famous Bollywood films or for mountain and city adventures.

India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies (around 6-7% per year) and has seen a steady increase in its middle class, which is travelling individually through Switzerland by public transport.

With 602’000 generated overnights in 2023, the Indian market is Switzerland’s 10th biggest source market. Hereafter you find the most important market information.

Directory

  1. Know the basics
  2. Market activities 2024
  3. Localized annual plan 2023

Know the basics

AddressSwitzerland Tourism
c/o Consulate General of Switzerland,
102, Maker Chambers IV, 10th Floor,
222 Jamnalal Bajaj Marg, Nariman Point,
Mumbai – 400021,
Maharashtra, India
Market ManagerChristian Schoch, Director India
Contact+91 22 6128 2500
christian.schoch@switzerland.com
LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/christian-schoch/

Meet the Team

The 6 team members are based in the vibrant and commercial city of Mumbai. We cover the entire Indian market with our trade, media, marketing and business travel departments.

Research and reports

  • ST market research page –– here
  • ST Research Report 2023 –– Download here
  • ST TMS 2017 –– Download here

Market activities 2024

Last updated: 04/26/2024 by CS

Market update and reporting of finalized activities 2023

Click here for an overview slide for each finalized activity in the current year. ((Will follow))

Localized annual plan 2023

Last updated: March 2023

Market Situation

Already by early 2022, the country had loosened most pandemic-related restrictions (such as the compulsory quarantine for anyone entering the country, limitations on group events, or the interruption of international flights, which are only allowed to countries with air bubble agreements throughout 2021). The vaccination campaign continued, albeit amidst difficulties also due to the steadily declining number of covid cases and thus without pressure on the population to vaccinate. Although delayed, the booster (which had been necessary for Indian tourists entering Switzerland) was made available in late spring.

On the other hand, a decisive component in the disappointing performance in 2022 in terms of overnights by the Indian market was the restrictions imposed by Switzerland in force until the beginning of May (i.e., the need to have a valid vaccination certificate with the last dose no later than 270 days). The delay in administering the booster in India meant that our customers could not travel to Switzerland. The particularity of the Indian market is also the seasonality of tourism, i.e., about 75% of tourism takes place between the end of April and June. These factors did not allow the market to recover optimally.

Once these difficulties were overcome, another factor further limited the recovery of tourism. All the visa sections of all the embassies in the Schengen area (as well as the US for example) found it difficult to grant appointments to all those applying for Schengen visas. Some countries, unable to handle the demand, even suspended visas. After a few critical months, the situation regarding our visa section improved and became one of the most effective. A victim itself of its own success, our visa section was also receiving requests from clients who did not have Switzerland as the object of their visit, generating a high rejection rate (almost 30%). Incentive groups suffered the most for some months, forcing them, where it was not possible to postpone the date of the trip, to cancel it or to opt for other countries. FIT customers proved to be more flexible in changing their travel dates. This resulted in the classic main holiday season being extended to months that are less suitable for the classic Indian tourist. In fact, excellent results in terms of both visas issued and overnight stays generated were recorded in late summer and autumn. Another positive aspect concerns the direct air connections operated by SWISS: at the beginning of January 2022, flights began in view of Air bubbles. With the final reopening to international air traffic, SWISS gradually increased flights, returning to the pre-pandemic situation, i.e., with 7 flights per week from Delhi and 7 from Mumbai, by the end of October 2022. The post-pandemic 2022 demonstrated and confirmed the great resilience of Indians, who, first domestically, but then quickly internationally, never gave up their holidays.

Economy

While China’s growth has been trudging along for some time, India’s has been doing well, one of the fastest growing economies in the world at 6 – 7% of GDP, a figure that looks set to continue for the next few years.

Thanks to these satisfactory results from robust domestic demand in the fourth quarter of 2021, India overtook Great Britain to become the fifth largest economy in the world after the USA, China, Japan and Germany, a position that is set to remain so in the coming years. Only ten years ago, the Indian economy was the 11th largest in terms of GDP value, and the fact that it has now become the fifth largest economy globally speaks volumes about the positive effects of the economic policies adopted by the Indian government that began in the 1990s and have allowed this Asian giant to grow. Of course, there is still a long way to go to become a developed country, but according to estimates made by the State Bank of India, if growth rates remain unchanged in the coming years, India could become the third largest global economy after the US and China by 2029.

Obviously, a lot could happen in the next seven years, but for now the Indian government remains optimistic, also since several high-tech industries will be demoralizing in the country, including Apple to produce the new iPhones. The effects of this economic growth are already beginning to be seen with an increased Indian presence in Africa, with partnerships and investments being set up in various countries.

Undoubtedly, the external factors of both politics and geo-economics that have weighed on the Indian situation are the international instability due to the post-pandemic phase and the war in Ukraine. The second contingency materialized due to India’s relationship with the current Russian government. It was, therefore, a more than favorable situation for the Modi government and for India. The availability and accessibility of energy raw materials has been a key ingredient of India’s economic recovery, along with reforms. It is now a question of how well the country will be able to exploit the positive momentum to consolidate its structure, for example in the industrial sector.

Travel industry

The tourism sector was one of the sectors that suffered most from the pandemic crisis in 2020 and 2021, receiving no economic support from the government. While international travel was restricted throughout 2021 and early 2022, the great resilience of Indians who still travelled extensively to countries where it was possible and especially domestically, was a breath of fresh air for the entire sector. The fact that many people lost money on unfulfilled travel bookings due to international restrictions meant that confidence in tour operators increased. If at the level of large players pan India there were no consequences caused by the pandemic, i.e., a few large Tour Operators present throughout the country, the situation of smaller TOs is more dynamic. While many had to close due to the crisis, many others opened, especially in Tier II and Tier III cities. Often it was the employees of the large operators themselves who lost their jobs, who opened smaller agencies (often consisting only of family members) but with a good customer database. High-level loyal customers.

The visa situation that arose this year on the one hand, and the initial entry rules that sometimes differed from country to country on the other, meant that many Tour Operators focused on the promotion and sale of “Switzerland-Mono-Destination“ packages. This was also a consequence of Switzerland’s excellent reputation for safety, attractiveness, and prestige as a holiday destination. The industry also greatly appreciated the open communication between the visa section/ Embassy/ST towards them, never hiding the current difficulties, but seeking cooperation with them.

The aviation sector is also becoming more dynamic: while the classic airlines are returning to the level of the number of connections to Europe of 2019, i.e., before the great crisis, other airlines (Vistara, SpiceJet) are either increasing connections to Europe or starting these connections for the first time. At present, despite the inflated cost of air tickets, demand clearly exceeds supply. These new connections by other operators should not only increase the supply, but also put a brake on the growth of these costs.

Travel behavior

The resilience of Indians has been the star of the post-pandemic, both in general context but especially as it relates to travel. The harsh and long lockdown that characterized 2020 and much of 2021 had as its epilogue an outburst in travel as soon as restrictions fell. However, the various problems related first to restrictions in Europe and Switzerland, then visas, showed, that while it is true that the peak vacation season is concentrated in a few months of the year (April-June), our target audience, more affluent and independent, opted for long-haul vacations that went beyond these months. So not giving up travel given an initial difficulty but rescheduling it. This led Tour Operators to expand their catalogs with offers with new products (fall/winter) thus allowing us to promote destinations, activities or experience considered until before the pandemic, niche or little known.

There is also, increasingly present, and numerous, the whole part of the younger generation (let us not forget that India’s population is more than 50 percent under 25 and more than 65 percent under 35) who are increasingly used to traveling internationally, are more independent and have traveling among their first priorities. Since the pandemic, we had expected a greater retreat to apartments and vacation homes, but the trend is not being confirmed, and although there will always be a share of Indians opting for these accommodations, the most important TOs confirm to us a strong upswing in requests for hotels, and medium/superior category. Having a growing young target audience, the type of vacation is also changing much more related to (soft) adventure, activities to do even in winter, and destinations or attractions that go beyond the usual clichés. In terms of the food aspect, too, this target group is much more flexible, used to a more international diet and therefore less tied to Indian food. However, it remains relevant on the part of the Indian market, group travelers. These are more attached to their habits (including food) and more oriented to the classic vacation.

Switzerland’s reputation since the pandemic has strengthened. The association made between Switzerland and a clean, safe, and people-friendly country has increased in value. Aspects that are particularly important in the post-pandemic and help us in promoting our destination. With better results to any expectation, the MICE (mainly Incentives) sector had a great upswing in terms of requests and groups confirmed for Switzerland in 2022. Again, the reputation, accessibility of Switzerland (although an expensive destination) remains extraordinarily strong. Some sectors such as insurance, pharmaceuticals, and real estate are growing strongly, breathing life into the sector that was thought to have taken longer to recover. For both Leisure and MICE, expectations for 2023 are remarkably high. If the visa situation is brought under control (this depends not only on the readiness of our embassy, but more importantly on what the other Schengen countries will do) there is every likelihood that we will return regarding the figures on arrivals and overnight stays, to the levels reached in 2019. There is still a share of Indians who failed to travel in 2022 and who are acting many months in advance for travel arrangements for 2023. The same for large groups, whereas of November 2022 there are already groups confirmed for May/June 2023 (to avoid the risk of not getting visas, TOs and agencies are activating in advance).

Personas

The Indian market focuses primarily on the personas Max, Lou, Quinn, Kris. Find more information about the personas here.  

Key Performance Indicators

Final 2023Budget 2024
Bed nights hotels602’888
Turnover Total (CHF)
Growth 2023 – 2024
Campaigning & Activation*
·      Top-Marketing Contacts828’163’777600’000’000
·      Customer reactions727’917660’000
·      Tracked Sessions on MyS.com per year3’467’9562’000’000
·      Bouncing Rate on MyS.com
·      Engagement Rate on MyS.com44.4%44.0%
·      Engagement Rate on Social Media1.00%1.00%
Media work (KMM)*
·      Top-Coverage articles356350
·      Top-Coverage media contacts1’971’819’5881’900’000’000
·      Qualified Interactions with KMM259260
Trade (KAM)
·      Influenced overnight with tour operators157’000180’000
·      Influenced revenue with tour operators48’670’00055’800’000
·      Specific group and FIT packages130
·      Qualified Interactions with KAM2’5302’500
·      Meetings: RFP’s128110
·      Influenced revenue business events11’657’33111’655’000
·      Qualified Interactions with business accounts280300
Partner cooperations
·      Investments tourism partners