Lahore: Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is playing host to more than 200 leading travel industry representatives from Switzerland. The travel trade delegation gathered in Abu Dhabi for the annual SRV (Schweizer Reise-Verband) Swiss Travel Association General Assembly, being held at the Park Hyatt hotel on Saadiyat Island from 11-15 November 2015.
The event, co-hosted by Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), is organised by Hala Abu Dhabi, the region’s leading conference organiser and destination management company.
The conference attendees include the owners and management of Switzerland’s leading travel agencies and tour operators, executives from the travel industry, along with representatives from Etihad Airways’ equity partners airberlin and Etihad Regional. This is the first time that the association’s Annual General Assembly is being held outside of Europe, with Abu Dhabi chosen for its immense touristic appeal and superior business and leisure infrastructure.
The main objective of this year’s conference is to showcase Abu Dhabi’s world-class resort hotels and leisure facilities. The trip also gives participants first-hand experience of Etihad Airways’ ground-breaking Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, operating the Zurich-Abu Dhabi route, offering delegates the opportunity to fly in the airline’s award-winning First Suites, spacious Business Studios and the unique Economy Smart Seats.
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are delighted to welcome the leaders and key decision-makers of the Swiss travel industry here in Abu Dhabi, who have been an integral part of our remarkable 11-year journey.
“Switzerland has been a significant travel market for Etihad Airways, since its inception in 2004, alongside being an important trading partner with the UAE. Our presence in the Swiss market contributes to a resilient aviation sector, bringing the benefits of competition and convenience to travellers.
“Our investments in Switzerland are testament to our commitment to the market, from sponsoring the 2015 Zurich Film Festival, to the launch of the unique Etihad Airways Mobile Exhibition Vehicle, to the deployment of our state-of-the-art B787 Dreamliner aircraft, offering revolutionary new cabin products and inflight service elements.
“Abu Dhabi has become a hub of aviation, culture, commerce and tourism, and is renowned the world-over for its year-round sun, a world-class tourism and conference infrastructure, and incredible leisure activities. We are excited to show the world what this vibrant city has to offer.”
Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director Tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “We are constantly looking to showcase the delights of Abu Dhabi to different and eclectic markets across the globe, and by hosting the Swiss Travel Association Conference here, in the capital of the UAE, it gives us the perfect opportunity to reach a new audience, and show the rich diversity of the experiences we have to offer here.
“By welcoming the SRV to our shores we hope to encourage more travellers from Switzerland to experience our hospitality, cultural and historic heritage, as well as explore our luxurious properties and excellent retail opportunities. We are confident this will resonate powerfully with our Swiss guests, leaving them with a long-lasting positive impression.”
Founded in 1928, the Swiss Travel Association is the representative association of travel agencies and tour operations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The SRV provides a variety of services for the benefit of its more than 800 active and around 140 passive members.
The visiting delegation was welcomed at a dinner hosted by Etihad Airways at the Palm Gardens of the iconic Yas Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island. The five-day visit includes a tour of the important cultural and touristic landmarks of Abu Dhabi, and a farewell gala dinner at the lavish Ritz Carlton Hotel.
Max E. Katz, President of the SRV, said: “The Swiss Travel Association is very excited to have its Annual General Assembly in Abu Dhabi. With daily Etihad Airways flights from both Geneva and Zurich, and luxurious accommodation offerings, Abu Dhabi has become a new favourite destination for Swiss travellers.”
In 2014 and 2015, year to date, Etihad Airways has welcomed more than 340,000 guests on its flights between Switzerland and Abu Dhabi, of which more than 190,000 travelled on the Geneva route and over 150,000 on the Zurich services.
Etihad Airways flies daily from Zurich and Geneva, connecting through its hub in Abu Dhabi to popular leisure and business destinations in the Gulf region, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, North and South East Asia, and Australia. The services also provide seamless onward connections to numerous points across Europe on the networks of airberlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia, Etihad Regional and Niki.