Switzerland Tourism is leading a movement towards sustainable tourism that benefits both the industry and an increasingly environmentally conscious travelling public, explains CEO Martin Nydegger
I love the Swiss spin on your sustainable tourism approach by labelling it Swisstainable. What are the key pillars in Switzerland’s sustainable, responsible tourism approach?
Together with our country’s tourism industry, Switzerland Tourism (ST) launched a national sustainability initiative last year. This strategy – although I prefer to describe it as a movement – called Swisstainable, facilitates the entire tourism industry in implementing sustainable solutions. Thus, our key pillars are: the movement, the programme and the campaign.
How is ST rallying your tourism players on this movement?
Swisstainable is an ambitious programme on three levels, namely Committed, Engaged, Leader. We already have roughly 1,200 Swiss tourism providers on board and hope to reach a total of 4,000 by the end of 2023. With the Swisstainable movement, we share knowledge, create emulation among tourism providers, and give our guests guidance on ways to travel more responsibly in Switzerland. Our goal is to become the most sustainable destination worldwide.
There is plenty of attention now on the term Conscious Travel. How does Switzerland Tourism regard this trend, and how much further does it go beyond environmental consideration, which is often the most common focus?
Conscious travel is already ingrained in Swisstainable, since the movement aims at helping travellers see sustainability as an enrichment rather than a limitation whenever they travel. With Swisstainable offers and products, we hope to let them enjoy nature up-close more often, to experience more of the local culture and regional products, and to prolong their stays to get a more in-depth (understanding) of our country.
Consumer intention surveys all point to respondents being keen on travelling more responsibly and consciously post-lockdown. Is that intention translating to actual action now that Switzerland has already seen the return of travel for months? How are they travelling around Switzerland and what experiences are gaining the most favour among these conscious travellers?
I guess the one dimension of travelling, where we will see the most drastic changes in the coming months and years, is mobility. Travellers are increasingly aware of the impact the type of transportation they choose has on the environment.
Our visitors from longhaul destinations are particularly keen on using public transportation when they travel within Switzerland, which is quite easy given our highly efficient and extensive public transportation network. Travelling by public transportation, combined with a longer stay, contributes to making the whole journey more sustainable.
What upcoming tourism developments in Switzerland will appeal most to travellers wanting a low-impact and meaningful vacation?
The comfort and freedom of travelling by public transportation in Switzerland will become even more popular than it currently is. In this respect, the Swiss Travel Pass, a universal ticket to travel by train, bus, boat, and cable car, which also includes entry to over 500 museums, is already an ideal product for any visit in Switzerland.
This year, we are focusing on gastronomy with a Swisstainable Veggie Day. Participating restaurants will offer vegetarian and/or vegan dishes on this day. We hope that more diversity on the plates will also be a long-term aim for our Swiss gastronomy players.
Finally, this year, we have launched a partnership with Kuoni-Tumlare and The Travel Corporation to build and scale up the global distribution of itineraries featuring Swisstainable suppliers.