Geneva Lake or Lac Leman is hardly an offbeat destination for Indian tourists. However, right next door, just outside Montreux, lies hidden an unusual museum that is bound to leave you in splits; for this is the Chaplin’s World or the Charlie Chaplin Museum
It is barely two years old, but it has already made a place for itself on the Swiss circuit for several global travellers. Set in the Swiss Riviera, with a lovely view of Lake Geneva as well as the Alps, Chaplin’s World is the latest thing to do while in Switzerland. It honours the world’s most famous tramp, who inspired a number of filmmakers around the world, including our own Bollywood mogul, Raj Kapoor. The idea behind a large museum dedicated to Chaplin and his work emerged almost 20 years ago when Swiss architect Philippe Meylan met with Canadian curator, film buff and Chaplin aficionado Yves Durand. A dedicated group of business persons and artists, working with architects and designers, along with the Chaplin Foundation oversaw the idea turning into reality.
To concretise the project, in 2011, the group began cooperation discussions with Paris-based Compagnie des Alpes, a key player in the European leisure industry, which runs key amusement parks like Parc Asterix and museums, notably, Musée Grévin.
Over two years of construction, involving over 200 workers, were needed to bring the Manoir de Ban and its adjoining park to their former glory. The museum and its surrounding areas were completed and thrown open to the public in 2016. Chaplin’s World is home to over 30 wax figures created by Grévin. These include the Tramp, Oona and Chaplin, politicians like Gandhi and Churchill, artists who crossed paths with Chaplin, like Paulette Godard, Buster Keaton and Sophia Loren, as well as Roberto Benigni, Federico Fellini and Michael Jackson, all of whom were inspired by Chaplin.
Right from the word go, Chaplin’s World has been a big hit with visitors, both Swiss as well as tourists from around the world, who typically throng the country for its mountains and villages. “Charlie Chaplin is such a powerful international brand that people of all ages, from totally different nationalities and cultures can easily relate to it. From the beginning our marketing strategy had a global dimension, primarily focusing on families and adults. We quickly realised that children represent a great potential in extending our market reach,” says Levente György-Mozes, senior account manager at Chaplin’s World.
In its first year of operation, the museum attracted largely local and other Swiss visitors. Soon enough, tourists from around the world, notably France, the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, the United States of America (US) as well as China, India and South-East Asia began flocking there. The response from visitors – both locals as well as foreigners – has been extremely satisfactory for the company, says György-Mozes. “Hosting around 300,000 visitors per year since the opening, as well as the overwhelming amount of positive feedback that we receive from our clients and partners, prove that the concept of Chaplin’s World is a successful one and that it really touches people emotionally,” she adds.
Chaplin’s World has been surprised positively by the response that the museum has received from Indian tourists as well as tour operators and travel companies. Indian tourists – be it Free Individual Travellers (FITs), families or even groups have all thronged to the museum. The museum believes that India is indeed a very large potential market and they hope to develop it rapidly into one of the top three global markets. György-Mozes says that one of the key segments where Chaplin’s World can become a significant player is the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, which has been one of the fastest growing tourism segments, not only in India but also around the globe. Chaplin’s World has already hosted over 200 MICE events in under two years says GyörgyMozes, adding that the weddings’ business in India is also a key focus area for them in their plans for business development in India.
As part of their promotion in India, Chaplin’s World had recently hosted noted Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh, who spent a day at the museum and the video of his visit went viral in India, reaching over 1.5 million views within a short time. György-Mozes adds that to promote the destination and to create greater awareness, the museum has also hosted several Indian journalists. “In addition to these activities, we are also participating this year in different workshops organised in Switzerland for the Indian market, and next year most likely we will travel to India to promote Chaplin’s World, together with Compagnie des Alpes – our mother company, which has been promoting for more than 10 years Grevin Paris Wax Museum and Asterix theme park,” György-Mozes says.
Interview: Levente GyörgyMozes, Senior account manager, Chaplin’s World
What would attract Indian tourists to Chaplin’s World?
We are just at the gates of Lavaux – the UNESCO protected vineyards, that offers great wine tasting experiences. Our experience shows that Indian travellers that come to Montreux-Riviera region choose mainly the summer months, but I would like to encourage them to expand their travel period. Due to the Mediterranean micro climate of the area it is not cold from November to March, there is hardly any snow by the lake, it is less crowded and gives the opportunity to discover the Swiss Riviera from a totally different angle alongside unique events like the Montreux Christmas Market in December.
What are the market segments that you are targeting in India?
The key segments we would like to develop are MICE and wedding market in India. Chaplin’s World is suitable for all type of events from business to private clients. Indian wedding planners showed their interest as well, so we hope that in the near future we will host Indian weddings that are so magical for us Europeans. Chaplin’s World with its magnificent gardens, historical mansion and stunning view of Lake Geneva and the Alps is the perfect setting for all of that!
What kind of numbers have you done in Indian market?
One thing is certain – from a couple of hundreds last year, the number of Indian visitors has grown to a couple of thousands this year. India is actually the overseas market that has the biggest exponential growth and will probably reach close to 10 pc of our overall tour group visitors’ volume by the end of this fiscal year. We are fully aware of the popularity of Charlie Chaplin and the movie industry in India, therefore we are convinced that this market segment will continue to grow rapidly in the years to come.