Basel a growing cruise hub
With a whopping 44% increase in cruise ships visiting Basel between 2011 and 2014, this Swiss city is proving to be popular gateway to Switzerland (and Europe) for many travellers and cruise enthusiasts.
Strategically located on the borders of France and Germany, Basel welcomed 97 ships in 2014, a 15.5% increase from the year before. Switzerland Tourism forecasts this number to steadily rise in the coming years as more river cruises are introduced into the market and more travellers embark on the different experiences on offer along the River Rhine.
Director of Switzerland Tourism Australia and New Zealand, Mark Wettstein, says Australian cruise-goers seem to love river cruising in Europe with the ICCA recording a massive 65.6% growth from 2013 to 2014 alone.
“We believe cruise-goers not only appreciate the sheer variety of things to see, do and experience around a continent as diverse as Europe, but they also appreciate the opportunities for pre and post cruise itineraries that further enhance their overall European holiday experience,” says Mark. “And this is especially true for travellers starting or ending their cruise in Basel.
“Increasingly, travellers are recognising the appeal of the Swiss Travel Pass and the access it provides to different experiences around the country thanks to the unlimited use of public transportation, free museum entries and discounted mountain railway rides. The convenience and value they receive from this one Pass is exceptional and savvy travellers often choose not to miss out.
“Our records show that Aussie overnights in Basel itself increased by 16% from 2013 to 2014 and we are expecting this growth to continue as interest in river cruising along the Rhine, Basel and Switzerland in general grows.
To accommodate the increase in demand, a series of three to five star hotels are being built with some opening from the end of this year. So far, six hotels will be opening over the next two years including the five-star 260-room Mövenpick, which is due to complete in 2018.
Mark also notes that apart from being a cruise hub, Basel is also growing in popularity among Australians who appreciate modern art, culture and architecture with many itineraries including tours that highlight the city’s artistic personality.
Agents interested in a taste of Basel’s artistic offering have the opportunity to check out the Basel Chamber Orchestra featuring Sol Gabetta from 22-29 November around Australia (22-23 November in Melbourne; 25 November in Brisbane; 27 November in Canberra; and 29 November in Sydney).
Basel is a part of many European cruise itineraries offered by Globus, Scenic, APT, Viking Cruises, Avalon Waterways, Tauck River Cruising and many others.