Appenzell Innerrhoden‘s charming landscape, independent culture and welcoming locals have long made the Swiss region a preferred tourist destination, but while this has been beneficial for the canton’s economy – its tourism accounts for 12.8 per cent of its GP – it has also left its marks on residents.
Visitors from all over the globe, including Switzerland, flock to this predominantly Swiss canton laden with Instagram-worthy hotspots. The Alpstein – a hiker’s paradise – and Äscher Wildkirchli restaurant, which opened in 1846, have inspired many a pilgrimage. As one of Switzerland’s oldest mountain inns, the latter also graced the cover of the National Geographic in 2015 and played host to none other than actor Ashton Kutcher and Swiss tennis icon Roger Federer.
The Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli is one of the most popular destinations in the @appenzellerland 🇨🇭 – and that for a reason!
You can enjoy a spectacular location nestled on a rock face 100 metres high! ⛰️
Have you been there? pic.twitter.com/POIH4BBLiJ
— About Switzerland (@AbtSwitzerland) February 26, 2019
But hosting famous faces comes at a cost. In 2018, the tourist rush prompted the then-owners to clear the premises only for the inn to open again the following year under new ownership.
In 2022, a large proportion of the circa 1.8 million people who visited the canton were in the region for a day trip, rather than an overnight stay. Appenzell Innerrhoden’s government has now proposed a new tourism strategy aimed at limiting mass tourism and its negative implications, such as more traffic, waste, people, and complaints.
Instead, the canton wants to encourage more overnight guests by building three to five hotels in the next 15 years.
Another Swiss tourism success story as a direct result of unprompted social media advertising is Lavertezzo, often referred to as the most beautiful village in Ticino. While select international tourists traverse the valley’s 17th century stone bridge, it is primarily visitors from German-speaking Switzerland and Italy that travel to Lavertezzo en masse – and all thanks to a YouTube video.
The one-minute clip, which is entitled The Maldives from Milan and praises Lavertezzo’s beauty, was posted on Facebook in 2017 and immediately led to a boost in tourism – and traffic chaos – in the region.
If the short (but effective) YouTube clip has inspired you to see Lavertezzo for yourself, it is advisable to do so in the late spring or early summer months, before the scorching heat (and mass tourism) kicks in as the valley is particular popular with visitors looking to take a dip in the crystal-clear river.
Though there is limited parking most visitors only stop by for a quick lunch and photo session before driving up to the Verzasca dam to marvel at bungee jumpers imitating James Bond’s famous GoldenEye scene.
If any tourist spot knows what mass tourism feels like first-hand, it’s likely to be Switzerland’s Rigi, frequently dubbed the Queen of the Mountains.
Set in the heart of central Switzerland, Rigi is easily accessible from every corner in the country. The mountain is located between three lakes, Lucerne, Zug and Lauerz, and offers visitors second-to-none views over the Alps from its highest point at 1,797 metres.
"Mount Rigi was covered in thick fog for two hours. I almost gave up and started walking away. Then, the fog cleared and I flew my drone," explains the photographer. 🌫️ 🚁😍
— Swiss Travel System (@Media_STS) January 21, 2022
During 2022, some 808,000 visitors chugged up the mountain by train or cable car – a 33 percent increase since 2021. Though the Rigi is heavily visited by tourists from around the world – the number of visitors rose from 553,000 to 912,000 between 2009 and 2018 – organisers are still encouraging more uphill travel in hopes of besting pre-pandemic record-high visitor numbers.
That’s as good an invitation as any.
Walking along Lucerne’s Schwanenplatz you’re bound to see several packed coaches drive up to offload tourists in a matter of minutes. Following a quick briefing, they are off to explore the nearby area along the quay, walk the Chapel Bridge and, most famously, hit the city’s many watch shops – for a day.
Lucerne’s popularity with overseas (short-stay) tourists has led to a boom in Lucerne’s holiday apartments on offer, so much so that in March of this year disgruntled locals voted to limit the length of time an apartment can be rented out for short stays to 90 days per year. Moreover, some hotels have introduced a minimum stay requirement when booking one of their rooms.
In 2022, Lucerne also stopped advertising in long-distance markets where the majority of its tourists fly in from in a move that was not well-received by the hotel industry, Blick reported.
If you pack a healthy dose of patience and are still eager to explore Lucerne, note that the city is well worth a longer stay. From its Bruch quarter, Titlis and the Lion Monument, to the Musegg Wall and its nine towers – Lucerne is packed with interesting sights to keep you busy for a week.
Iseltwald is often referred to as the pearl of Lake Brienz, and rightfully so. The fishing village is located on the left bank of the river and is one of the smallest communities in the canton of Bern – and locals would like to keep it that way.
However, with its crystal-clear lake and breath-taking mountain backdrop, Iseltwald also caught the eye of Netflix whose hit series Crash Landing on You partly takes place in the quaint village.
Since its airing in 2019, the show has attracted thousands of overseas tourists to the quaint Swiss village, prompting the municipality to limit the number of visitors it allows with a new set of measures. These include stricter rules for coaches – such as prior booking and a parking time limit – as well as the introduction of a controversial selfie fee.