Without a doubt the most common question I am asked is, what is the next, new, great destination? Following hints of new countries and remote destinations opening up the world, the quest becomes like a treasure hunt. What new discoveries can be made? Where else can we go? What new ‘Insider’ experiences can we unlock for our guests? And then, where to after that?
This past month, however, I was reminded of how some of the greatest discoveries we can make are, in fact, rediscovered destinations. Taking in their beauty a second, third or fourth time can be as spectacular as the first.
On this occasion, the location was Zermatt, Switzerland. The occasion: Schweizer Ferientag/ Switzerland Vacation Day, the annual conference for almost 1’300 members of the Swiss Tourism industry who come together to share and learn. The presentation: Tour Operators today and tomorrow.
As per usual, I arrived armed with my invitation from my kind hosts, my ready-for-stage presentation, and admittedly, an innate sense of comfort being in a destination that is entirely familiar to me, in an area I frequently visit in the winters in my adopted homeland. However, the advantage of being in a known place, does risk becoming a blur.
Thankfully however, this blur quickly had the brakes applied when I awoke to see the sun rising reflecting off of the grandeur and splendour of the Matterhorn. There, towering over me, powerfully yet ever so peacefully, stood one of the great natural wonders of our world. In that moment my thoughts were frozen in genuine awe.
Poignantly, the sight of the Matterhorn reminded me of one of the great truths of the travel industry; Switzerland is one of the most beautiful, truly spectacular places on earth.
The beauty I experienced all around me was not limited to the landscapes. Equally, over the duration of the meeting, I was reminded of the authenticity of the people – the local artisans from chocolate to cheese, to less traditional wares. With their passion for their homeland, and an exceptional welcome to all – Swiss hospitality is both true and genuine.
Switzerland Tourism does an exceptional job of capturing and sharing with the world a true gift; destination Switzerland. They bring life to a word that can be so often overused in our tourism marketing world – ‘real’. Somehow this is simply in the essence of their nation, Switzerland Tourism makes ‘real’ an honest travel experience, one that was far deeper, richer and more embracing than I would have ever imagined.
Returning back to my home in Geneva, I found myself walking a step slower along Lake Geneva as the fresh mountain water acted as a perfect mirror for the sun’s rays. Not only could I feel myself breathing in the pure, clean air, I could also feel myself breathing in the incredible sense of blessing.
How remarkable and renewing it was, and continues to be, looking out over those waters and appreciating again and again all that surrounds me each day, wherever I am in the world.
May places newly discovered, and those comfortably familiar, continue to slow your steps and awaken your most grateful of senses.