Switzerland’s tourism sector tangoes with sustainability
Switzerland’s national tourism agency sums up the dilemma in a nutshell: where to go next? There is so much to see and do, that many visitors find one trip is not enough to enjoy everything
Switzerland’s natural beauty is almost unmatched and with so much to discover, millions of visitors return year after year to experience and enjoy new adventures. Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are hugely popular activities for young people and families who wish to spend quality time on the slopes of majestic mountains. The range of options during spring and summer is even broader, with hundreds of walking paths, hiking trails and cycle routes serving up stunning views of lakes, snow-capped peaks and vast tranquil forests. Complementing these breathtaking natural assets is the famous Swiss hospitality and incredibly rich culture soaked in history and tradition — from mouth-watering cuisine to distinct fashion. According to Switzerland’s Federal Office of Statistics, the hotel industry enjoyed strong single-digit annual growth in the first half of 2018, with more than 18.4 million overnight stays recorded. International visitors comprised nearly two-thirds of that impressive figure. The tourism industry is massive, and generates around 10% of GDP and provides employment to hundreds of thousands of people directly and indirectly. As in other natural-resource dependent sectors, Switzerland is committed to the sustainable development of the tourism industry, as are the thousands of hoteliers and service providers whose livelihoods depend on its success. Switzerland’s most famous year-round resort, the mention of St. Moritz immediately conjures up images of the world’s international jet-setters relaxing by the pool or donned in the latest skiwear. Considered the number one Alpine holiday destination for factors such as its views and activities, the Winter Olympic Games has been held in St. Moritz twice.
‘Unique Alpine metropolis’
Indeed, the local tourism body echoes the view of many when it says: “St. Moritz is more than just a spa town, more than just a winter sports destination, more than just a magnet for countless celebrities, artists and aristocrats — it’s a unique Alpine metropolis.” The town’s legendary landmark is the luxury Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, which blends impeccable service and attention to detail with glamorous atmosphere. The hotel’s star-studded history has seen Hollywood stars and celebrities among the famous faces to grace its rooms and halls. Former guest and master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, even has a luxury suite named after him. As part of their deep commitment to environmentally-friendly technologies and equipment, the five-star hotel extracts water from the nearby St. Moritz lake and uses an energy-efficient heat pump system. The heat pump plant covers 80% of the hotel’s total energy needs, saves 400,000 liters per year of heating oil and reduces the hotel’s carbon dioxide emissions by 1,000 tons per year. “Environmentally friendly behaviour is becoming more and more important. With projects like this, St. Moritz has the opportunity to be perceived not only as a luxury destination but also as an environmentally conscious place,” said Richard Leuenberger, Managing Director of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel.
Giant ski resort Andermatt takes shape in the heart of the Alps
In a clear display of the confidence major international investors have in Switzerland’s tourism sector, the Andermatt Swiss Alps is a luxury new resort in the village from which it takes its name. The flagship project of well-known Egyptian businessman, billionaire and philanthropist, Samih Sawiris, the integrated holiday destination will serve as a year-round holiday destination in the heart of the mountain range. Once fully built and open, guests will have the choice of staying at half a dozen four and five-star hotels. The ambitious project features approximately. 500 apartments in 42 buildings, 28 chalets, business convention facilities, indoor pool, and a challenging 18-hole golf course.
Andermatt Swiss Alps relies on Orascom Development Holding as a strong partner with extensive experience in the development of integrated holiday destinations. Sawiris concedes it took the company a good few years to convince the market and investors that the scale and size of the project could be achieved and would thrive over the next few decades. “Now we have built two hotels out of the six, which proves that it can be a success,” smiles the chairman of Andermatt Swiss Alps. “Today, the project is no longer considered as a utopia or a crazy project that is not going to happen, but as a reality.
“We are currently adding the third resort, Disentis, which will enable us to cover three valleys in Switzerland: Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis. It will then be one of the biggest ski destinations in Switzerland. “We will add more and more features and facilities to continue developing the resort as a world-class destination and as Switzerland finest destination. “One of the greatest advantages is proximity to international airports like Zurich, as this enables easy access to the resorts.”