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Switzerland tries to flatten out peaks of Alpine visitors

The Swiss village of Iseltwald has seen a surge of Asian tourists thanks to the Netflix series 'Crash Landing on You' (Fabrice COFFRINI)
The Swiss village of Iseltwald has seen a surge of Asian tourists thanks to the Netflix series 'Crash Landing on You' (Fabrice COFFRINI)

Switzerland's tourism agency said Thursday that it was trying to even out the flow of holidaymakers throughout the year to protect the Alpine country from the risks of excessive tourism.

Switzerland Tourism said it would seek to highlight the off seasons and promote destinations off the beaten track.

Officials told a press conference in Zurich the agency wanted to direct holidaymakers to "the right places, at the right time".

There is "no problem of general over-tourism in Switzerland", said the agency's chief Martin Nydegger, though there are "temporary and localised bottlenecks, well known to the industry".

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The village of Iseltwald in central Switzerland, for example, suddenly saw Asian tourists flocking to the shores of Lake Brienz last year after the huge success of the South Korean Netflix series "Crash Landing on You".

The village of around 400 inhabitants decided to impose a fee of five Swiss francs ($5.55) on tourists wanting to go on the pontoon for a picture where a romantic scene was filmed.

Nydegger said the Swiss generally had a positive opinion of the industry. According to a survey carried out by the agency, only five percent are concerned about tourism.

"The strength of the Swiss franc is already one defence, because it limits access to mass tourism," Damian Constantin, head of the conference of directors of regional tourist offices, told AFP.

Along with the strong currency, the high cost of living also makes Switzerland an expensive destination to visit, further curbing the risk of over-tourism, he said.

Switzerland Tourism nonetheless wants to be proactive in protecting a sector that generates 43 billion francs ($48 billion) a year and 4.5 percent of the country's GDP, according to Nydegger.

The agency intends to work with tour operators to offer packages off the beaten track, like hiking trails and electric bike tours at the luxury winter ski resort of Davos-Klosters, promoted with the help of Chinese online content creators.

It has also launched campaigns to promote tourism during the autumn to extend the summer season.

"The diversity of Switzerland is highlighted worldwide so that travellers can spread out better, immerse themselves deeper and stay longer," the agency said.

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