A few weeks ago I was in Zürich attending FESPO – the largest holiday and travel fair in Switzerland.
As I pull on another pair of socks and shiver at the sight of the icy crust of wintery snow still lingering outside, I curse myself for not entering the competition to win a trip to guest country Maldives.
I did pick up a free copy of the Hello Maldives publication; a ‘compact, easy-to-carry, and user-friendly Handbook for Tourists, Tour Operators and everyone else’.
Sadly I never ventured across to The Maldives when I travelled around India and Sri Lanka. Perhaps I considered it a place for tourists and loving couples, or a little too far out in the Indian Ocean for overland travellers. Right now, I’d like to be a tourist.
With national tourism representatives, tour operators and travel agencies nicely organised by region it was easy to travel around the world without being overly confused. There were also sections devoted to cruising, caravaning, coach tours, wellness, diving and golfing holidays.
Even the Swiss Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (EDA) made an appearance at the show.
Some tourist organisations offered a little food and drink from their region while others played some local music or treated us to a dance show with full traditional costume. The Visit Maldives marketing team decided to make their stand look like a tropical beach.
Around 70,000 visitors made it to the Messe Zurich, in Oerlikon, over the four days.
With nearly 600 exhibitors in six large halls, spread out on three floors of exhibition space, the visitors surely collected plenty of holiday ideas to think about while drinking a cup of warm chocolate on another cold day like today.
A few thoughts I came away with revolved around train journeys and cycling.
Looking through my little folder I see Zugreisen weltweit bei TCTT; The GoldenPass Line (Zurich – Luzern – Interlaken – Montreux – Geneva); Rhätische Bahn (spectacular UNESCO track between Thusis and Tirano).
My cycling options came down to Cycling in Germany (Deutschland per Rad entdecken); the Elbe Radweg (from Cuxhaven on the North Sea to Prague, as a possible 1,000km alternative to the Danube Cycleway – from Donaueschingen to Budapest and on to the Black Sea).
It even appears I could win a trip to Iceland, with Island Tours, if enough people like the photo I took of their campervan. Camper Iceland looked a little sad parked up inside Messe Zürich on its own, so I decided to present it in something of a FESPO montage. Fingers crossed.
The one complaint I do have is that some of the catalogues were too thick to carry around; TravelHouse and Diamir Erlebnisreisen probably weighing-in with the heaviest. To be fair, it is possible to cut down on paper and download one of their online catalogues.
My award for the best looking brochure would have to go to Fotoreisen.ch. If only going on one of their photo tours could guarantee capturing such beautiful images.
The Zurich event is one of four holiday and travel fairs grouped together under the Schweizer Ferienmeesen banner. If anyone in Switzerland missed the Ferienmesse Bern (Jan 10-13) or the Vacances Geneve (Jan 18-20), there’s always the Basler Ferienmesse (Feb 22-24); that’s tomorrow!
FESPO returns to Zurich from 30th January to 2nd February, 2014.