Europe’s tourism boards launched a number of themes this year, hoping to attract more visitors. Notable efforts included “The Year of Food & Drink 2015” from Visit Scotland. It gives way to “The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design” in 2016. But there’s still time to enjoy fall programing highlighting Scottish food and drink.
For example, the UK’s largest cocktail festival takes place in Edinburgh October 29-30. “Cocktails in the City” features mixologists from some of the city’s most famous watering holes. Visitors will learn how to craft specialty cocktails. And bartenders will compete for the prestigious “Best Cocktail” award.
If foodie clients are visiting St. Andrews, they may want to travel the short distance to Anstruther, on the Fife coast. The fishing village is home to Scotland’s newest Michelin-starred dining establishment, The Cellar at Anstruther.
Beginning next year, increased airlift will make getting to Scotland easier. New service from Iceland Air (Keflavik to Aberdeen) and Delta (JFK to Edinburgh) launches in March and May, respectively.
Italy, meanwhile, is opting for a Hollywood theme in its latest tourism message. The Italian National Tourist Board has launched a video featuring some of the most successful movies filmed there.
“Italian Emotions, The Directors’ Dream“ debuted in September at the Venice International Film Festival. The video cleverly splices together scenes of Italy, as played out in famous films starring Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Russell Crowe and Gwyneth Paltrow, among others.
The goal is to inspire would-be visitors to come star in their own Italian experience. It’s a valuable promotional tool, says National Tourist Office spokesperson Emanuela Boni.
“I do encourage agents to put the video on their own web site,” Boni tells Travel Agent.
At Switzerland Tourism, the message this summer was all about exploration. The “Grand Tour of Switzerland” showcases a 1,000-mile route through four different language regions. Highlights include eleven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Alpine passes, two biospheres and more than 20 lakes.
With fall’s approach, visitors will also find food, wine and harvest festivals along the way. The country’s biggest wine tasting fair will take place in Zurich from October 29-November 12. Expovina - the Zurich Wine Fair - features more than 4,000 wines plus food from six top Zurich eateries. It takes place on a dozen boats anchored near Bürkliplatz.
Though not well known, Switzerland in the fall also offers leaf peeping opportunities. One hotel taking advantage of the allure of fall foliage is the Grand Hotel Kronenhof. The historic landmark is located in Pontresina, a mountain village six miles from St. Moritz. The surrounding Upper Engadine Valley is known for its autumnal colors. Guests can take in the colorful displays on several hiking trails that lead from the hotel.
Seasonal attractions include the Bergell Chestnut Festival, taking place nearby. And this month, the hotel will feature game evenings in which guests dine on the bounty of local hunters.
The property’s dining and spa facilities hold a number of distinctions and awards. Both the Grand Hotel Kronenhof and its sister property Kulm Hotel St. Moritz are known for their jet-set appeal. That’s not surprising. They’re owned by the Greek shipping and socialite-laden Niarchos family.
Tourism officials downplay the notion that Switzerland is only for the rich, however.
Alex Herrmann, director Americas, Switzerland Tourism tells Travel Agent that shoulder season in September and October offers relative bargains.
“Most accommodations in Switzerland offer a premium experience, irrespective of the number of stars,” said Herrmann.