Switzerland wanted to promote winter tourism in a big way in India and has roped in cricket icons Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga to play ice cricket in a Swiss ski resort as a part of the promotional drive, a Switzerland Tourism official said on Thursday.
The maximum visit of Indians were recorded during May and June, the peak tourist season, and not during the month of December which is winter and off-season, Director of Switzerland Tourism, India, Claudio Zemp said here.
Switzerland Tourism has signed Indian cricket icons Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan and Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga to play ice cricket in the Swiss luxury ski resort St Moritz as part of the drive to promote winter tourism, Zemp told reporters after a roadshow on Switzerland Tourism.
Zemp said Switzerland’s increasing number of Indian overnights in the peak season can be attributed to Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh coming on board as the brand ambassador of Switzerland Tourism in August 2016.
A total of 7,48,000 Indian tourists visited the central European country in 2017, the officials said.
“We had a 23.4 per cent rise in the overnights spent by Indians in Switzerland in 2017 after Singh became the brand ambassador,” he said.
India is the eighth most important market for Switzerland - with the first three slots occupied by Germany, the US and the UK.
The numbers this year are also encouraging in terms of Indian tourists, he said.
“We are up 10 per cent in hotel overnights in the period of January to August 2018 as compared to the same period last year,” Zemp said.
On the Bollywood influence in popularising Switzerland among tourists in the Indian sub-continent, he said, “It is clear that Indian films have increased the appeal of Switzerland among the tourists - (raising) the aspirations to come to Switzerland, building up the romantic image which Switzerland has portrayed through Bollywood, for many years.”
He said there are also mountain excursions in Switzerland as many people “want to have thrill, excitement, adventure” apart from sightseeing.