l set to plan your 2010 family vacations? You may want to mark Switzerland on your map.
We are expecting a big boom in 2010. All those people who did not travel in 2009 will travel this year. Costs have dropped by 10 to 15 per cent because the first four months of 2009 scared everyone! So, those who were willing to spend a lakh earlier will now only have to spend around Rs 88,000, says Ritu Sharma, deputy director (India), Switzerland Tourism.
And making it more affordable is the growing availability of service apartments. Already popular in many parts of the world, the service apartment has become increasingly common in the land of the Alps, chocolate, cheese and watches.
They were introduced around three years ago and because they are always in demand from Indian tourists, we want to focus on them, explains Ritu.
A service apartment can typically accommodate a family of four two adults and two children. It usually would come with a kitchenette and would be located in popular tourist locations like Interlaken and Lucerne. With pubic transport nearby, travelling within Switzerland becomes easier. A three-star hotel would cost you 140 to 160 francs per night. But a service apartment comes for 500 francs a week, says Ritu. (One franc is roughly Rs 44).
On request, shorter stays of three-four days can also be considered and rates are slashed accordingly. From January to October 2009, out of the 300,150 nights spent by Indians in Switzerland, 200,000 were spent in such apartments.
Switzerland Tourism is also promoting tourist-friendly regions like Basel. Once the tourist numbers to these regions increase significantly, we will introduce service apartments there, too, adds Ritu.
And with 2010 being declared the Year of Hiking in the Swiss city, gear up for some backpacking through the Jura foothills or the Schweizer Mittelland.