Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Swiss village that’s so beautiful it wants to charge visitors to enter

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With visitor numbers peaking at around 6,000 per day according to some reports, Lauterbrunnen doesn’t get as busy as tourist hot spots such as the Acropolis (where visitors were capped at 20,000 per day last September) or Bali (which introduced a new tourist tax in February 2024). “I don’t believe we have ‘overtourism’, as discussed in cities like Venice,” says Marc Ungerer, CEO of Jungfrau Regional Tourism. 

But like other places that have found themselves suddenly thrust into the social media spotlight, Lauterbrunnen’s size means it struggles to cope with the high numbers of visitors – as well as their behaviour once they get there. “During the peak summer season, it gets a bit crowded along the village road, as the road is not very wide and there’s only one pavement,” admits Tom Durrer, Lauterbrunnen’s resort manager. “However, the municipality is planning to create a second pavement and widen the road.”

Half an hour’s drive away on the shore of Lake Brienz, Iseltwald (population, 415) faced similar problems when it was catapulted to stardom after its picturesque pier featured in the Korean Netflix series Crash Landing on You. In the resulting tourism explosion, coach trippers clogged its roads and alleyways, leading authorities to impose a £5 selfie tax to take photos on the structure.

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