Spotlight

Destination Switzerland

Much loved and admired for its natural beauty, Switzerland is a destination high up on wishlists of travellers around the world, especially and increasingly also Asians. But how does the country’s popularity as a tourism destination affect its sustainability? How are its mountain destinations adapting to the consequences of climate change, such as less snow? And how are Switzerland’s hotels and other tourism businesses living up to the high expectations of environmentally conscious travellers?

To get answers to those and other questions, we caught up with Swiss tourism leaders and sustainability changemakers.

Destinations championing sustainability

Below our selection of destinations championing sustainability. Join us as we explore how they do it – their success strategies and coping with challenges.

Werfenweng, Austria

Werfenweng soft mobility destination Werfenweng, as a destination, is well known among tourism and sustainability professionals, having won multiple awards for its ‘soft mobility’ concept. In October 2018, we had the opportunity to get to know the small village (1,000 inhabitants) near Salzburg in Austria and to experience its approach to climate-friendly tourism. But why the focus on soft mobility and climate-friendly travel? And how does this alpine village, at an altitude of 900 meters with breath-taking mountain scenery, succeed in rallying stakeholders together to pursue this shared vision? During our visit, we caught up with Dr. Peter Brandauer, mayor of Werfenweng for almost 30 years and a staunch believer in innovation and responsible tourism. We also (earlier) met with Karmen Mentil, who has been consulting Werfenweng on its way towards soft mobility. In the interview, she tells us about the initiative Alpine Pearls, a network of small destinations across the European Alps – Werfenweng was among the first to join – dedicated to climate-friendly mobility and responsible tourism, one step at a time.

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Parc Ela, Switzerland

Switzerland is much liked and well known as a country and destination which offers spectacular natural landscapes and alpine experiences. Complementing our series of interviews with Swiss sustainable tourism champions, this time we take a closer look at Parc Ela, among Switzerland’s most pristine and largest regional nature parks, with rich cultural heritage. Having been created only recently, Destination Parc Ela in Eastern Switzerland’s canton of Grisons (Graubünden), is firmly committed to promoting sustainable tourism and responsible travel.

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Basque Country

Welcome to our Basque Country sustainable tourism stories and examples. During our destination visit of the Basque Country in November 2015, we had the opportunity to witness first hand, how this region is taking steps towards sustainable tourism development, and how pioneering accommodation providers have created examples of best practice – points of reference for the destination’s ambition to become a leader in sustainability. We also gained a unique insight into the political economy of destination stewardship by talking to various key stakeholders during the World Charter for Sustainable Tourism +20 conference in Vitoria-Gasteiz. For the Basque Country, developing strategies for sustainable economic development through responsible tourism isn’t just about market share and competitiveness. It is a chance to offer opportunities and to maintain peace in a region whose people and reputation have suffered from terrorism and violence for far too long. Here are some of the stories of tourism professionals who are helping Basque Country in developing the image of a forward-thinking destination with sustainability and ecotourism at its core.

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Slovenia

uch loved and admired for its natural beauty, Slovenia as a destination has become a mecca for outdoor lovers and adventure travelers. Its capital, Ljubljana, is widely regarded as a role model for urban sustainable development, not least thanks to its car-free inner city which brought urban life back to the center. While some destinations in Slovenia, like Podčetrtek, are well established, others – such as Bela Krajina and Kočevsko in the south – are just starting to develop their unique positioning. But what exactly are the challenges of building and managing a sustainable tourism business – for example an eco-farm – or a destination? Who are the changemakers – professionals going the extra mile? And what role do tour guides play, as agents for change? To get answers to those and other questions, we caught up with Slovenian tourism leaders and sustainability changemakers.

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Barcelona

Barcelona is a destination which needs little introduction, thanks to its international fame. Situated in the northeast of Spain on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the capital of Catalonia entered the world stage as the host of the 1992 Olympic Games, which is when its tourism success story began. In recent years, Barcelona has been increasingly suffering from overcrowded public spaces and disgruntled residents, due to its success as a tourist destination. Faced with those challenges, Barcelona’s destination managers and marketers, together with the City Council are on a mission to find solutions and to promote tourism that is more responsible and sustainable. Below the stories of professionals who are helping Barcelona in its transition towards a socially and ecologically sustainable city and destination.

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Príncipe Island

The little-known African country of São Tomé and Príncipe is a former Portuguese colony comprised by two islands, the smaller of which – Principe – is eager to build itself a reputation as a destination firmly committed to sustainable practices: a biosphere reserve attracting environmentally conscious, discerning travelers from around the world. But what exactly are the challenges of building and managing a remote island destination sustainably? To get answers to those and other questions, we caught up with Príncipe tourism leaders and sustainability changemakers.

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Switzerland

Much loved and admired for its natural beauty, Switzerland is a destination high up on wishlists of travellers around the world, especially and increasingly also Asians. But how does the country’s popularity as a tourism destination affect its sustainability? How are its mountain destinations adapting to the consequences of climate change, such as less snow? And how are Switzerland’s hotels and other tourism businesses living up to the high expectations of environmentally conscious travellers?

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Destination Changemakers

Behind every innovative, sustainable destination are individuals who have put a lot of time and effort into developing their city, region or country in line with sustainability. Here we present you some of the destination makers and shapers whom we have interviewed over the years:

Eduardo Santander on Destination Europe, Sustainable Tourism and Post-Pandemic Travel

Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of ETC, the European Travel Commission, on Destination Europe, sustainable tourism and travel after the pandemic.

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Peter De Wilde of VISITFLANDERS on the Future of Tourism, Purposeful Marketing and Sustainable Destinations

Peter De Wilde of VISITFLANDERS on destination sustainability strategies, purposeful marketing and the way ahead for sustainable tourism in Europe.

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Kai Collins: Championing Community-Driven Conservation Economy and Sustainable Tourism in the Okavango River Basin

Kai Collins on sustainable tourism and the need for a community-driven conservation approach to protecting the ecosystem of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

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Jos Vranken on COVID-19, Overtourism and Holland’s Sustainable Destination Strategy

Jos Vranken on Holland's sustainable destination strategy, how COVID19 has impacted tourism in the Netherlands and how DMOs are realigning their strategies and priorities.

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Sonja Gottlebe on Sustainable Tourism Development in Madagascar and the Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19 Travel Disruptions

Meet Sonja Gottlebe of Boogie Pilgrim, championing sustainable tourism in Madagascar. Discover how she is supporting the sustainable development of communities on the island through her ecotourism business.

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Carla Danelutti on How to Link Ecotourism and Conservation in the Mediterranean

Carla Danelutti illustrates how the IUCN promotes ecotourism and conservation for sustainable regional development in the Mediterranean.

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Goverdhan Rathore on the Challenges of Tiger Conservation and the State of Sustainable Tourism in India

Goverdhan Rathore shares how, together with his father and friends he has been protecting the tiger population in Ranthambore National Park, and why India urgently needs a sustainability strategy for its tourism development.

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Jens Thraenhart on Responsible Tourism Marketing and Sustainable Destination Development in the Mekong Region

Jens Thraenhart of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office in this interview shares his destination marketing experience and his thoughts on responsible tourism development in the Mekong region in Asia.

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Muna Haddad on Strengthening Local Economies in Jordan through Community-Based Tourism

How Muna Haddad works towards helping local communities benefit from the visitor economy of a booming Jordan tourism, by setting up rural businesses.

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Kaspar Howald on How 100% Valposchiavo Connects Agriculture, Local Trade and Tourism

Kaspar Howald, Director of Valposchiavo Turismo, in this interview shares the story of "100% Valposchiavo" - how it started and what's next for this popular alpine destination in the very south east of Switzerland.

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Dieter Mueller on How Swiss Alpine Destination Parc Ela is Moving Towards Tourism Sustainability

Dieter Mueller, managing director of Parc Ela in Eastern Switzerland, on how the destination promotes sustainable tourism, connects with stakeholders and prepares for the growing interest in sustainability among travelers.

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Dereck Joubert on the Future of Responsible Tourism in Africa and Wildlife Conservation Strategies

Dereck Joubert, award-winning filmmaker, founder and CEO of Great Plains Conservation, shares his experience of running a responsible tour business based on wildlife conservation in Africa.

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Janko Humar on Soča Valley Destination Strengths, Tourism Trends and Sustainability Challenges

Soča Valley in Slovenia is a destination well known among adventure travelers. Janko Humar in this interview shares the destination's story, its challenges and opportunities. The interview is part of a special series with Slovenian sustainable tourism pioneers and changemakers.

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Boštjan Misja on Tourism Sustainability Challenges and Successes at the Slovenian-Croatian Border: Destination Podčetrtek

Podčetrtek in Slovenia: a destination leading in sustainability. Boštjan Misja in this interview shares the story and illustrates how they do it - the challenges and achievements.

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José Koechlin von Stein, Founder of Inkaterra Hotels in Peru on Biodiversity Conservation and Community Wellbeing

José Koechlin von Stein in this interview takes us on a journey through history, explaining how Inkaterra hotels in Peru have been working over many years to combine responsible entrepreneurship with biodiversity conservation and community well-being.

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Joao Ministro on Tourism Sustainability and Regional Development in the Algarve, Portugal

Joao Ministro in this interview shares his experience of working in rural development and responsible tourism in the Algarve region of Portugal.

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Peter Brandauer on Soft Mobility Tourism in Werfenweng, Austria

Dr Peter Brandauer in this interview illustrates how the small alpine community of Werfenweng in Austria uses soft mobility accross the tourism destination.

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Reto Fry on the Greenstyle Approach to Sustainability at Weisse Arena Group in Laax, Switzerland

Reto Fry in this interview introduces us to the "Greenstyle" sustainability strategy of Weisse Arena Group in Laax, Switzerland.

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Urs Wohler on Destination Management, Leadership and Sustainability

Urs Wohler, former director of destination Scuol Sammaun Val Müstair in Switzerland, on why political leadership is key for destination sustainability.

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Theo Schnider, Director of UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch in Switzerland

Theo Schnider of UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch near Lucerne, Switzerland, shares his experience of developing, managing and promoting a sustainable destination.

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Martin Nydegger on Tourism Sustainability Strategies and Trends in Switzerland

Martin Nydegger, Director of Switzerland Tourism, shares how the country markets its destinations and how Switzerland approaches tourism sustainability.

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Vincent Fonvieille of French Tour Operator La Balaguère on Responsible Tourism Challenges and Trends in the Pyrenees

Vincent Fonvieille of the French tour operator La Balaguère reflects on his entrepreneurial journey so far, and discusses the business challenges and trends impacting his destination, the Pyrenees.

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Rachel Vaughan on Destination Sustainability Strategies in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Rachel Vaughan in this interview shares how the small coastal town of Kaikoura in New Zealand approaches destination sustainability.

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Michael Dodds on Destination Sustainability Strategies in France

Michael Dodds shares his thoughts on destination sustainability strategies, challenges and opportunities in Normandy and Brittany (France).

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Martha (Pati) Ruiz Corzo on Tourism and Conservation at Sierra Gorda in Mexico

Martha (Pati) Ruiz Corzo's story is that of a women who does not tire to reconnect her people with the land they depend on. In this interview she tells us how she uses conservation and tourism as tools for a sustainable development of the Sierra Gorda in Mexico.

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Karmen Mentil on Sustainable Mobility and Responsible Tourism in the European Alps

Karmen Mentil, Director of Alpine Pearls, in this interview shares her experience of developing, managing and marketing sustainable tourist destinations in the European Alps.

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Maja Pak on Slovenia, Destination Marketing and Sustainable Tourism Strategies

Maja Pak in this interview shares the impressive story of Slovenia, a destination firmly committed to sustainability and which, over the years, has built a strong track record in promoting responsible tourism through its destination marketing organization.

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Carol Gleeson on the Sustainable Destination Strategy of Burren Geopark in Ireland

Carol Gleeson, manager of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark in Ireland, discusses sustainable destination strategies, successes and challenges.

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Amine Ahlafi on Tourism and Sustainable Development in Morocco

Amine Ahlafi on his sustainable architecture firm 2d Dama and how the Mohammed VI Foundation works to enhance the sustainability of tourism in Morocco.

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Ary Suhandi on Ecotourism Development in Indonesia

Ary Suhandi, Executive Director of the Indonesian Ecotourism Network (INDECON), shares his insights on tourism development in Indonesia.

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Beatriz Barreal on the Sustainable Destination Strategy of Riviera Maya in Mexico

Beatriz Barreal, founder and CEO of Sustainable Riviera Maya, tells us how she went from communications and marketing guru to Mexico's sustainable tourism champion.

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Mayra Nieto on Sustainability Strategies at Park Güell, Barcelona

Park Güell is a tourist attraction wandering and struggling between the benefits and issues brought by mass tourism in Barcelona. Mayra Nieto Magaldi, in this interview tells us about the sustainability strategies implemented at this popular tourist attraction.

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Xavier Suñol Ferrer of Barcelona City Council on Tourism and Sustainability

Xavier Suñol Ferrer, Head of Strategic Projects at Barcelona City Council’s Tourism Department, in this interview explains the city’s vision and strategic plan for tourism development.

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Philippe Moreau, Tourism Lead at Destination Príncipe

Interview with Philippe Moreau on developing Príncipe island in Western Africa as sustainable destination: His vision, challenges and achievements so far.

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Estrela Matilde, Project Manager Príncipe Island Biosphere Reserve

While visiting a destination and exploring new places is fun, what really intrigues us are the stories of a place’s residents, entrepreneurs and, since we are covering sustainable tourism leadership, those shakers and doers who make things happen: who put policy and words into practice. On Príncipe Island, West Africa’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Estrela Matilde, is one of those people. Learn more about her life on Príncipe and her professional experiences in this interview.

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Peter Gash of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Queensland, Australia

Few sustainable tourism leadership stories are as inspiring as the one of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort in Queensland, Australia. Intrigued by how much is possible if one man has a vision and follows it through, we were curious to learn more about the person “in charge” on that tiny island located at the southernmost end of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Meet Peter Gash, managing director and leaseholder of Lady Elliot Island, chief pilot and aviation engineer.

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You represent a destination committed to sustainability and would like to share your strategy and story with the sustainability leaders community? Get in touch!