Open Jaw Quebec’s Isabelle Chagnon joined the Air Canada Race’s triumphant return following the pandemic. Here are her experiences, adapted from her report in French, during race events in this year’s host country: Switzerland.
This week, Open Jaw Quebec has the privilege of accompanying 9 well-known figures from Switzerland Tourism Toronto, Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations, and 36 travel agents, tour operators and members of the industry media, from across Canada to Basel.
In addition to the exciting Race, meetings took place between Canadian advisers and Swiss suppliers at the Mövenpick hotel in Basel.
We expected, but did we really know how much: the pandemic has left its mark. This first major in-person meetings between the Canadian and Swiss industry, was a very moving reunion.
“We are currently living through a period of unprecedented challenges. They are challenges which we must meet. I am touched to be here, with all of you, in Switzerland, and to witness the success of this very first event, long awaited in our industry and made possible thanks to each of you!” said Edna Ray, Senior Account Manager at Air Canada, with visible emotion to the attendees at the Safran Zunft restaurant in Basel.
“I would like to warmly thank Switzerland and thank you all, dear agents. Thank you for inspiring us. It is for you that we are organizing the Air Canada Race. We want to know you are involved and the pandemic shows us once again that we all need each other more than ever. ”
A Long Time Coming
“We started to think about the organization of this race in 2018!” The director of Switzerland Tourism in Canada, Pascal Prinz, greeted the assembled attendees with a broad smile in the conference room of the Mövenpick hotel in Basel.
“The pandemic has turned everything upside down but that’s it, we are there! Switzerland has been looking forward to this great moment! Enough of Zoom meetings! We are extremely proud to be the host country of this important meeting, the very first since the start of the pandemic.”
Ursula Beamish-Mader, head of media relations in North America for Switzerland Tourism – still in her post for a short week, before retirement – welcomed us to our arrival at Zurich Airport.
With a train pass in our pocket courtesy of the Swiss Travel System, we were invited to board a train for the 80-minute journey to Basel.
Our stay at the Mövenpick Hotel in Basel was unique: the hotel will open its doors to the public on 01SEP, so we were the first to appreciate its pristine new rooms and lobby, but also its infrastructure and services including conference rooms, executive lounges, free Internet access, and its location a stone’s throw from the train station in the historic center of Basel and near the Rhine.
The Air Canada Race’s closing dinner took place in the privileged setting of the restaurant Les Trois Rois, named Hotel of the year 2020 by Gault & Millau. For the record, this 5-star establishment is one of the oldest historic urban hotels in Europe. It is located in the historic heart of the city of Basel and overlooks the famous Rhine River.
Following the conclusion of the Air Canada Race, participants split up: some boarding a train to the Gstaad region, and others to Lucerne for additional Swiss travel experiences before a return home on 02SEP.
A COVID test kit was provided free of charge by Switch Health for advisors, tour operators and media to carry out prior to their arrival back in Canada.