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New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) If you thought a trip to Switzerland was only about romancing in the pristine valleys, eating Swiss chocolates and buying Swiss watch, think again. You may be able to actually craft a Swiss watch, partly atleast, as the mountain nation promotes 'Living Traditions', promoting cultural aspects of the country and inviting participation.
You may not only buy Swiss wine, but actually make some yourself, blow the Alphorn, trail the cattle descent on the slopes of Alps and live the life of a Swiss for few days.
"Both India and Switzerland take pride of their rich heritage of culture and traditions. 'Living Traditions' is an endeavour to showcase our customs and way of life that reflects the true Switzerland," said Stephan Heuberger, director, Switzerland Tourism India.
"We are sure that Indian visitors will find it enthralling whilst they are experiencing our traditions and customs in our nature," Heuberger told reporters Monday.
"Switzerland is a country much more than dramatic landscapes, quaint country settings, chocolates, cheese and watches. It's central location in the heart of Europe straddling the French, German-Austrian, and Italian borders, wonderfully combines the traditional and cultural influences of its neighbours," he said.
Switzerland, which as a tourism destination has been highly popularised by Hindi films, is now focusing on increasing tourist inflow from India aiming at a eight percent increase this year.
"India is presently one of the top 12 tourism traffic sources for Switzerland," Ritu Sharma, deputy director, Switzerland Tourism India said.
"Though largest volume of tourists still is domestic, and from other European countries, India is fast becoming an important source market for us," she said.
Indian tourists make roughly two percent of the total tourists in Switzerland, with domestic tourists making 50 percent of the total. A major chunk of tourists come from neighbouring Germany, Italy and France.
Sharma adds the nature of tourism from India to Switzerland is changing fast, and a huge focus is on youth tourists and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions).
"Switzerland is becoming more and more popular with groups of 100-200 people as well as for large movements. Large corporates now prefer Switzerland for conferences and meetings given the ideal location of the country. MICE groups have grown by more than 22 percent in the year 2013 as compared with the previous year," Sharma said.
"Almost 50 percent of the tourists are still group tourists who take the conventional tour. But the other half if individual tourists who tend to stay longer, and want to explore more, off the beaten track," she added.