Swiss luxury hotels woo Indian tourists

When it comes to wooing Indian tourists, the Swiss know that the per capita income of Indians at a modest $1600-1700 is apparently not a complete reflection of affluent Indians and their propensity to spend on holidaying in far-away destinations.

Indian tourists, on an average, spend about 350 Swiss francs, or approximately Rs 20,200 per night stay in Switzerland and the total overnight stays by Indians was 5 lakh in 2012, up from 4.65 lakh in 2011, according to Ritu Sharma, Deputy Director-India, Swiss Tourism. She told Deccan Herald, “India is a strong market for tourism and we are targetting about 5.5 lakh overnight stays by Indian tourists this year.”

Indian tourists spend more than their European counterparts, though the highest spends are visitors from oil-rich Gulf countries, she added.

Endowed with scenic locales and ice-clad mountains often shown in Bollywood movies, the non-EU country and one of the world's wealthiest nations, Switzerland is now wooing Indian tourists to its uber-luxury hotels. As part of the annual roadshow organised by the global luxury hotels consortium -the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) - four of the eleven hoteliers had B2B meetings with travel agents  in Bangalore. The other hoteliers were from Japan, Singapore, Morrocco and Malaysia.

While most Indian tourists stay at 3 or 4 star hotels, there is a discerning trend towards luxury hotels, said Ritu Sharma.  The Director of Sales and Marketing at Gstaad Palace, Melanie Ehlert, told Deccan Herald that with Europe slowing down, opportunities have to be explored outside traditional markets. “Slowly, we are feeling the pinch (of economic slowdown in Europe). Guests are now becoming price-conscious,”  she said.

The 100-year-old luxury hotel with 104 rooms enjoys an occupancy rate of about 85 per cent, she added.

There is also a paradigm shift among Indian visitors to Switzerland, said Ritu Sharma. “These days, they prefer wellness holidays, biking tours, paragliding and skiing, than just flit from destination to destination.” It augurs well for Swiss hotels and resorts, like the Grand Resort, Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. “Indians are coming more and more for weight loss and detox programmes, Bollywood celebrities are also keen on our offers,” said Mirjam Meier, Sales Manager at Grand Resort, Switzerland, which specialises in wellness and SPA packages. The Director of Grand Hotel Park, Gstaad, Tania Winter, said business from India is important for Swiss hotels.

Tourism is a big money spinner for Switzerland; about 18 million foreign tourists visit the country every year.

The rich-Indian tourist is also wooed by other lesser-known destinations.

Denys Courtier, Executive Director of La Mamounia, a luxury hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, said he is looking at business from Bollywood celebs.

LHW consortium comprises about 434 luxury hotels worldwide, including nine in India. The nine Indian hotels belong to the Taj group, including Taj West End at Bangalore, said T E Sowmyaragavan, Director, LHW India.


Posted On : 31 January,2013