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Lauterbrunnen set to introduce an entrance fee for tourists

Lauterbrunnen set to introduce an entrance fee for tourists

In a bid to ease the number of tourists visiting the village every year, officials in Lauterbrunnen have announced their intention to charge visitors an entrance fee. The tourist tax, inspired by the model already in place in Venice, would see day travellers and even passing drivers pay a small fee.

Lauterbrunnen swamped with tourists

With its iconic waterfall and picture postcard views of the mountains, Lauterbrunnen, Canton Bern is a place of stunning natural beauty - the town was named the “most heavenly village in Europe” by Belgian newspaper Le Soir. However, this reputation also means that the town of just 2.200 people is swamped with tourists every year.

According to the official data, the Bernese region where Lauterbrunnen is situated recorded 2 million overnight stays last year, a new record which accounts for nearly a third of all hotel stays in Canton Bern as a whole. As a result, the Berner Zeitung reports locals being annoyed with packed streets full of people, overflowing rubbish bins, soaring costs for houses and apartments and crowded public transport services.

Venice-style tourist entrance fee proposed in Switzerland

Therefore, the local council in Lauterbrunnen has announced its intention to enforce an entrance fee of between five and 10 francs. The special tax would be paid via an official application on smartphones and would target those who drive through Lauterbrunnen or only stay for a short time - those with public transport tickets and hotel bookings would be exempt. The policy itself would be enforced by random spot checks.

The idea itself is inspired by a similar policy enforced in Venice. Since April 2024, the city has introduced a five-euro entrance fee for all those who want to visit the famous canals and historical sites as part of a day trip. It also isn’t the first location in Switzerland to charge a tourist fee, with the town of Iseltwald charging tourists five francs to take a picture on a local pier, after its brief appearance in a popular K drama.

Tourists in Lauterbrunnen appear willing to pay the extra charge

However, there are signs to suggest that the special tourist tax may not be enough, with one Lauterbrunnen tourist from America telling 20 Minuten that it is “absolutely worth the entrance fee…. I would also pay an entrance fee of 20 euros.” “Five francs is comparatively cheap” said another, adding that she hoped that the extra charge would be used to help maintain the town for locals and tourists alike.

Speaking to 20 Minuten, the Mayor of Lauterbrunnen Karl Näpflin admitted that the entrance fee would not solve the fundamental problem of overtourism on its own. “We have to be honest: 90 percent of the measures are to combat symptoms,” he noted. Officials in the town concluded that they are still in the process of developing an idea, so the tax will likely be implemented at some point after the summer of 2024.

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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