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App makes tourism easy in Switzerland

One day Korean travelers will not need to carry heavy books, guides and maps to travel in Switzerland.

Instead, all relevant information such as maps, guides, text, photos and even videos will be put on smartphones and tablet computers for travelers to experience Switzerland without the need for tour guides or paper.

“We want to get rid of all boundaries and the boundary for Koreans is language when traveling to Switzerland,” said Swiss Tourism Organization representative Jean Kim.

Kim unveiled her office’s plans at the Swiss ambassador’s residence last week during their bi-annual Swiss tourism fair which pairs up tour operators, airlines and industry personnel from both countries under one roof.

Swiss Ambassador Thomas Kupfer told The Korea Herald that today’s tourism is not limited to just business.

“It is also part, in a larger sense, of cultural exchanges,” Kupfer said. “I like it because it brings people together by going beyond regular business.”

Switzerland has the image of being green and clean. 
Christmas market in Stein am Rhein in Canton Schaffhausen, Eastern Switzerland (Swiss Tourism)
Christmas market in Stein am Rhein in Canton Schaffhausen, Eastern Switzerland (Swiss Tourism)

In 2008, Switzerland was voted number 1 in Green Travel in the Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for Ecology and Sustainability by the World Economic Forum.

In last year’s Environmental Performance index, which ranks 163 countries across 10 policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality, Switzerland ranked second while South Korea was 94.

Kim explained that her office in Seoul pumps out 30,000 brochures, which equates to 180 trees, but once the applications go online in mid-March, the cost per year could go down 30-40 percent.

The fair also aimed to market Switzerland as a year-round destination.

“Switzerland is a tourism destination for summer and winter but for Koreans it’s still a summer destination,” said Kupfer.

With the new interactive map, Korean visitors will never get lost, Kim said.

“You can listen to all relevant information about the site which permits you to take pictures and enjoy the sites,” Kim said.

Last year, 140,000 tourists from Korea stayed in Switzerland. At its peak in 2007, the number of Korean visitors was almost 160,000.

“We can be optimistic that the partnership between Korean travel operators and Swiss holiday organizers is a very good match,” said Kupfer.

Both the embassy and the Swiss Tourism office predict that tourist numbers this year will match or exceed those of 2007.

By Yoav Cerralbo (