Swiss tourism bosses are still cashing in on Heidi, 135 years after Johanna Spyri’s children’s classic was first published. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
The story received a new lease of life with a Heidi film in 2015, which lured a half a million viewers into Swiss cinemas and was sold to more than 50 countries around the world.
Now the Heidi theme is being reworked again on a mountain in canton St Gallen. There are plans for a Heidi village in the Flumserberg ski area. A total investment of CHF100 million is being sought for two new hotels, a new ski gondola, and the Heidi Experience, which promises to recreate the 19th century novel using actors and real animals. The earmarked location for the Experience is Tannenboden, above the lake of Walen. Tourism bosses hope it will help to attract up to 300,000 extra visitors per year.
The problem is that there is already another Heidi experience just 30 km away, above Maienfeld. In the little village or “Dörfli”, where the fictional character Heidi lived, you can visit 19th century houses, a stall with goats, a village store and a museum about Spyri. The locals say it’s the real McCoy for thousands of international tourists every year, and they’re not too worried about competition from Flumserberg.