Switzerland wants to boost tourism, gastronomy cooperation with PH
MANILA, Philippines — The Swiss government is eyeing to ink a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Philippines that would boost tourism and gastronomy promotion, among others, between the two countries.
In a press event organized by the Swiss Embassy in Manila Tuesday night, Ivan Breiter, Director of Switzerland Tourism for Southeast Asia, told reporters that discussions with the Department of Tourism (DOT) for a possible signing of an MOU are now underway.
“Just today, we had a discussion with the Department of Tourism (DOT) on different subjects. We have an interest in preparing a letter of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) but we want to start with certain specifics projects first so that we have a base of building it up,” Breiter said.
He said there are a lot of synergies as well as differences between the Philippines and Switzerland, which would be beneficial in tourism cooperation.
“I mean (a) tropical country (Philippines) and a country (Switzerland) that is in the alps in Europe. It’s rather a cold country so this attracts very much,” Breiter said.
He said that Switzerland is also tapping the area of gastronomy.
“It’s a topic we want to explore and see ‘Okay, how can we bring chefs from the Philippines to Switzerland, how we can bring Swiss chefs to the Philippines? How can we have a culinary exchange.’ There’s a lot of Filipinos that are studying in Switzerland, either hospitality or gastronomy and so we see a big potential,” Breiter said.
He also took note of tourism activities that are unique only to the Philippines or to Switzerland.
“Like mountain activities, hiking up a volcano is for Switzerland, very special. We don’t have that. And for Filipinos who like to go hiking in your mountains, you don’t have the alps with the glaciers so this is again something that we can work very well together,” he said.
‘First official step’
Breiter said that the discussion with the DOT was the “first official step” towards tourism cooperation between the two nations.
“We want to develop more travelers from the Philippines coming to Switzerland and the same thing is for the Philippine tourism authority, they want to attract more and we see both markets of strategic importance for us,” he said.
An MOU may be signed by the end of the year, he noted.
“Today was the first official step after that we will see, make a list of the different interest that we want to explore to build up…we see that we work together so official signage will probably take place at the end of the year,’” he added.
Breiter also said that there are talks on putting up direct flights from the Philippines to Switzerland and vice versa but “at the moment we don’t have something that we can announce as of yet.”
“There are talks, definitely, and we are trying to have a direct connection…We are in negotiation with different companies to see (if) we can use this potential of having a better connection, this would further increase the interest for both countries to visit each other,” he said.
Asked for a timeline on the possible direct flights, he said: “It’s difficult to say. You don’t want to announce something before that actually happens.”
PH, Swiss tourists
According to Breiter, Filipino tourist arrivals to Switzerland have been increasing over the past few years, the same goes for the number of Swiss travelers to the Philippines.
He said there were 45,000 Filipino tourists who visited Switzerland in 2019.
“At the moment, it’s (Philippines) one of the strongest growing markets,” he noted.
Breiter, likewise, said that the Philippines is a “very attractive” for Swiss nationals.
“We have quite a big community of Swiss community here in the Philippines, (it’s a) definitely very attractive country…We are looking that we can target certain specific niches,” he said.
“Let’s say the diving as an example that is very interesting for a landlocked country like Switzerland, it’s a lot of potential and people are always spending quite a lot of money to have this beautiful experience that the Philippines has to offer (which is) some of the best in the world,” he pointed out.
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