Switzerland Tourism may not be promoted in US and China for climate reasons
National Councillor Christophe Clivaz is pressuring the Swiss government to consider pulling subsidies used by Switzerland Tourism to attract visitors from far-away countries such as China and the United States. Clivaz says overseas advertising in countries far away from Switzerland encourages unsustainable air travel and contributes to global emissions.
Swiss cantons desperate to welcome tourists after COVID-19
The councillor's comments come as many Swiss cantons are scrambling to get tourists back after the COVID-19 pandemic, with airports in Switzerland under increased pressure due to the return of mass tourism. A statement from the tourist organisation for Lucerne noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic had caused mass disruption for the industry, tourists are slowly returning to Switzerland and “even some of our customers from distant markets have already returned.”
In recent years, the tourism industry has focused on becoming more sustainable, with Switzerland Tourism recently rebranding itself as “Swisstainable.” This is not a surprise, as a Booking.com survey in 2021 found that 83 percent of travellers saw environmentally-friendly tourism as important.
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Councillor Christophe Clivaz said that Switzerland Tourism is wrong to rebrand itself with a focus on sustainability, while still encouraging tourism from faraway places. He argued, “It is contradictory to promote sustainable tourism and at the same time to encourage the arrival of distant tourists coming by plane."
"A Beijing to Zurich round trip emits 3 tonnes of CO2 and Los Angeles to Geneva emits 3,1 tonnes. To put that into perspective, with the average inhabitant in Switzerland producing 5,8 tonnes of emissions per year, just one of these flights corresponds to more than half of the average annual carbon footprint of a person living in Switzerland,” he explained.
Switzerland Tourism defended itself from Clivaz’s accusations, stating that “diversification of where we get our tourists from ensures a better distribution between seasons and destinations," according to spokesperson Véronique Kanel. The organisation argued that clients from far abroad spike demand outside the typical summer holidays, which makes revenue for the industry more stable.