Switzerland to take measures to counter overtourism

Switzerland to take measures to counter overtourism

Faced with an ever-rising number of tourists, officials in Switzerland have announced their intention to spread out visitor numbers throughout the year. The alpine nation has experienced several “tourism bottlenecks” in the past months, increasing the risk of "overtourism".

Tourist numbers in Switzerland reach record highs

As a land of stunning mountains, pristine lakes and captivating cities, it’s no surprise that Switzerland is a top tourist destination. In 2023, the country’s hotels recorded 41,8 million overnight stays, the highest number ever.

In response to the record visitor numbers, Tourism Switzerland - the company charged by the government to promote tourism - has announced a new plan designed to “spread out” the number of tourists. Speaking to 20 Minuten, CEO Martin Nydegger said that while there is “no problem of generalised overtourism in Switzerland”, there are “temporary and local bottlenecks” that have to be addressed.

Towns in the Swiss Alps faced with overtourism

The most famous of these bottlenecks can be found in the tiny town of Iseltwald on Lake Brienz. In the last few years, the town has seen an influx of tourists from South Korea after a local pier was used in the hit series Crash Landing on You. The numbers were so extreme that the bus service to the town was expanded, and the local council imposed restrictions on visitor numbers and a five-franc charge to access the pier.

Other more well-known tourist destinations have also started to take matters into their own hands. In May 2024, the “most heavenly village in Europe”, Lauterbrunnen, announced that it would be imposing a new tourist tax, after locals complained of streets packed full of people, overflowing rubbish bins, soaring costs for houses and apartments and crowded public transport services.

How is Switzerland planning to ease overtourism?

Under its new plan, Switzerland Tourism will look to highlight and promote destinations that are off the beaten trek and encourage tourists to visit in the off-season. These measures will focus mainly on destinations in the Alps and will range from offering special off-season programmes like hiking trails and e-bike tours and launching promotions for holidays in the autumn, to using Chinese content creators and influencers to promote lesser-known places to visit in Switzerland.

The company said it hoped its new strategy would mean people on holiday would go “to the right places, at the right time.”

High cost of living helps ease tourist numbers

Nydegger said that they would do everything they can to protect the Swiss tourism industry, which is estimated to be worth 43 billion francs a year or around 4,5 percent of annual GDP. The new policy is said to be “proactive”, with the CEO explaining that at the moment, only 5 percent of the Swiss population is concerned about overtourism.

Speaking to the AFP, Conference of Regional Tourist Office Directors president Damian Constantin explained that overtourism in Switzerland is likely to remain isolated to a few destinations. "The strength of the Swiss franc is already a defence because it limits access to mass tourism," he noted, alluding that the Alps would likely be swamped with tourists, were it not for Switzerland’s high cost of living.

Thumb image credit: Taljat David /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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