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Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation’s sustainability drive

New director of Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation, Adrien Genier looks forward to strengthening the Swiss city’s image abroad by uniting stakeholders around issues such as sustainability.

He is actively participating in the GDS-Index, a business initiative created to help convention bureaux, event planners and meetings industry suppliers adopt and promote sustainable practices in the business tourism and events industry.

“We are in the middle of the GDS-Index ranking – 26 out of 50. We are working to improve on that. We are connecting with all of our stakeholders to make them aware of the necessity of it,” he told M&IT.

Genier singles out one example – the project Genève Lac Nationsexternal link – the first hydrothermal use of the waters of Lake Geneva – cools the buildings in the Sécheron-Nations district in the northern part of the city.

“We use water from the lake, which is pumped inside to cool down buildings. Most of the United Nations buildings use this system,” he says.

The new director, who started in January has clear objectives. He is responsible for developing and implementing a tourism concept, policy and promotional initiatives for Geneva.

“My main priority is clear communication and to bring more transparency with our partners and create a common agenda. We are very dependent on hoteliers, congress centres as well as the local providers – the cafes and restaurants. It works if we are all aligned and working towards the same goal.”

The Palais des Nations in Geneva is the largest UN centre after New York.

The Palais des Nations in Geneva.

He added: “As a brand Geneva is seen as global and positive, and as a product the destination offers diversity and quality… The aim will be to increase nights spent, trade fairs and conventions in Geneva.”

Geneva Convention Bureau director Didier Allaz said: “One of the roles of the convention bureau is to educate people and to move from awareness to ownership.”

Allaz believes the UK meetings industry  it is a key sector. “The UK is in the top three destinations for the Geneva market. There is a natural link between the UK and Switzerland – we both work in banking, finance, fintech and the medical sectors. There is a huge British community in Geneva.”

In the film The Third Man, Orson Welles made a famous speech about the European city. “In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

You can read this statement in several ways. An immediate reaction might be that Switzerland is safe and not particularly interesting. In another interpretation – which will have organisers sighing with relief – is confidence that events will run like clockwork, with precision and efficiency.

Geneva fast facts

  • International airport with direct flights to over 140 destinations, low cost carriers & high-speed trains from European cities
  • Shortest journey time by train in Europe from the airport to the city centre at six minutes
  • Free public transport for 80 minutes for passengers arriving at the airport & for guests for the duration of their stay in a hotel in Geneva
  • Largest congress and exhibition capacity in Switzerland
  • Lowest VAT rate in Europe at 7.7 per cent
  • First rate hotel infrastructure with 128 hotels and 9,700 hotel rooms
  • 36 hotels from 3-5* offering state-of-the-art conference facilities
  • The smallest of the big capitals with only 190,000 inhabitants & host to 35 international organisations and 250 NGOs
  • 40 museums including the Olympic Museum, the International Museum of the Reformation and The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.