WEALTHY bankers in Switzerland could soon be providing a financial boost to the Highland economy, with charter flights from its capital Zurich to Inverness being launched later this year.
The service could provide a potential inbound tourism gain worth almost £1 million.
Swiss based Falcon Travel will operate weekly charter flights from Zurich to the Highland Capital from May.
The airline, who previously ran a scheduled service between the two cities, will fly a 100-seat Fokker 100 aircraft on the route, which will operate into Inverness for 15 weeks from May until August. The service will also return in 2016 and 2017.
Zurich is a major world financial centre, home to some of the world’s biggest financial and banking institutions, and Swiss visitors are traditionally high spenders.
In 2013, Swiss tourists visiting Scotland spent a total of £31 million, and had an average spend of £632 per trip, according to VisitScotland.
The new service will have capacity for up to 1,500 inbound visitors.
Graeme Bell, Inverness Airport General Manager, said: “The return of flights from Zurich to Inverness is a significant boost to the city’s tourism industry. We anticipate the new service will generate almost £1 million for the sector. That’s fantastic news for hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions across Inverness and the Highlands.
“We are delighted that Falcon Travel have committed to operate this service for three years. Inverness and the Highlands have a great deal to offer Swiss visitors and we will be working closely with Inverness and Loch Ness Tourism BID and other tourism agencies to ensure we make the most of this opportunity.”
Graeme Ambrose, chief executive of the Tourism BID, said: “This is great news for the Inverness and Loch Ness area.
“The Swiss are traditionally high spenders and the return of this service will provide a welcome additional boost to local tourism businesses over the summer months.”
Janine Hunziker, Product Manager Northern Europe for Falcon Travel, said: “We are excited about the prospect of returning to Inverness this year. Inverness is a well known destination to our Swiss customers and we therefore expect a successful booking season.”
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