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Geneva’s Gulf visitors not put off by Swiss bank crisis

Geneva Gulf visitors Unsplash/Devam Jhabak
Between January and October 2022, Gulf travellers accounted for 191,139 room nights in Switzerland’s second largest city
  • Gulf travellers increased 105% in 2022 with positive signs for 2023
  • UAE biggest GCC target market followed by Saudi Arabia
  • Almost 8% of rooms booked in the Swiss city were from Gulf visitors

Switzerland’s banking system may have suffered a dent to its reputation this year, but the headlines have not put off Gulf visitors from visiting Geneva.

For the first 10 months of 2022, Gulf visitors accounted for 191,139 room nights in the European country’s second city, according to data from its official tourism body.

Travellers from the Gulf accounted for 7.8 percent of total room nights booked over the review period, making the region Geneva’s second largest source market after the US.

Franck Romanet, market manager at Geneva Tourism, said the number of Gulf visitors to the city increased 105 percent year-on-year in 2022 and is predicting that 2023 figures will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

“The UAE is considered the biggest target market in the GCC region, followed by the Saudi market which registered the biggest increase to compare to 2021,” Romanet said.

Geneva is Switzerland’s second largest city after the capital Zurich and is located in the French-speaking, south-west area of the country.

Tourism Geneva last month launched its “Unexpected Geneva” marketing campaign in the Gulf to entice more visitors from the region.

Swiss authorities in March orchestrated a merger of its two banking titans, UBS and Credit Suisse, in a deal which saw losses for its Gulf-based backers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

However, Wego, an online travel portal in the Mena region, concurred that the potential reputational risk generated as a result of the Swiss banking crisis had not put Gulf travellers off visiting the country.

“We have seen more demand this year than the previous year when it comes to flight and hotel searches from Mena to Switzerland with over 261,000 searches,” Mamoun Hmedan, Mena managing director at Wego, said.

“However, the numbers are still not at pre-Covid levels and we expect the searches to increase by the end of the year.”