Geneva is a destination that many will only have seen from the window of an airport transfer vehicle. Rebecca Knight discovers why this Swiss city is much more than just a gateway to the Alps.
Jonathan Robin, Geneva tourism project manager for Europe, recently enlightened me about why the Swiss city deserves more than a fleeting visit.
Robin described Geneva as the destination for travellers looking for an “unexpected city break” in Europe. Just a 90-minute flight from the UK, and with more than 50 flights a day from the UK, the city is ideally placed for a 48-hour stay.
“Visitors to the city can bike through the vineyards, swim or fish in the iconic Lake Geneva, visit one of the world-renowned museums or eat in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe,” he said.
Other activities that might pique clients’ interests include the Old Town, home to St Peter’s Cathedral with panoramic views of the city, and the Eaux-Vives neighbourhood, where they might enjoy a drink at a cocktail bar with a view of the Jet d’Eau fountain. Robin explained that Brexit has had an impact on the number of UK visitors to the city: “It is clear that Brexit talks and the weak pound may have slightly reduced UK visitors to Geneva, but we are hoping that Geneva’s unique and attractive holiday offering will appeal to UK tourists.”
The tourism board continues to promote the Geneva Pass, one of the cheapest city cards in Europe at around £20, granting access to 47 tourist attractions and activities at complimentary or preferential rates. Agents can sell the pass as part of tailored packages. Stressing the affordability of the city, Robin also said: “The public transport is very efficient, and free for every visitor staying in a hotel, hostel or camp site.”
Geneva’s key target visitors include young couples, over-55s and young women travelling in groups. Robin explained the city’s appeal for these client types: “Geneva is renowned as a safe destination and offers endless activities.”
In 2018 the city will welcome new developments including the launch of SeaBubbles, an electric taxi that hovers over the water, and a new easyJet flight route from Southampton.
Looking ahead, in 2019 the Eaux-Vives Beach will be developed to create a stretch of almost five acres and 2020 will see the opening of a new comedy theatre.
There is more to Geneva than expensive watches and chocolates, and it’s well worth considering booking your clients a stopover on the way to the mountains – or indeed selling it as a city break on its own merit.