by Martina Fuchs
GENEVA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Switzerland Tourism, the country's national marketing organization, said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China remains one of its main markets with a "huge potential" as the organization aims to position the country as a top sustainable travel destination.
"After two very difficult years, 2022 finally brought back a real recovery," Simon Bosshart, chief markets officer East at Switzerland Tourism, told Xinhua in a recent online interview ahead of World Tourism Day 2022 on Sept. 27.
Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland Tourism has a presence in 27 countries.
Recovery was already on the horizon in 2021 in Europe and in the overseas markets, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the United States, but stumbled again due to the appearance of the COVID-19 Omicron variant later that year, Bosshart said.
"We expect to reach roughly 90 percent in terms of overnight stays in 2022 compared to 2019, so that's a relatively positive result," Bosshart noted.
In August, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office said that the country's hotel sector recorded 16.9 million overnight stays in the first half of 2022, an increase of 47.3 percent compared with the same period last year.
The organization has recently launched its "Swisstainable" initiative, derived from the words "Swiss" and "sustainable," which aims to offer sustainable tourism by experiencing the local culture and consuming regional products.
Looking ahead to 2023, Bosshart said that the number of visitors from the southeast Asian countries, as well as from Australia and New Zealand is expected to return to its "normal" level, provided that no new COVID-19 pandemic waves emerge.
"China has been on a continuing growth path over the past two decades. We believe that there is much more potential to explore there," he said, adding that Switzerland Tourism has been present in China for 24 years after establishing an office there in 1998.
"We have not reduced our presence in China, not by a single person." Bosshart said.