The Rigi railway in central Switzerland has added special trains to its regular service to transport bigger groups of tourists, mostly from China. Railway representatives say it’s a way to accommodate an influx of visitors, due in part to a successful marketing campaign.
Marcel Waldis, Rigi’s Deputy CEO, says that the railway has seen a 25% increase in tourists, who come to visit the Mount Rigi resort area, over last year. A joint marketing campaign with the Mount Emei resort region in China was partially responsible for the jump.
“This [increase] is a mix of Swiss and international guests,” Waldis told swissinfo.ch. “During the first eight months of this year we had 70% Swiss guests, and 30% of guests are international.”
A recent story in the Blick newspaper about the Rigi railway’s supplemental trains sparked international outrage at the apparent separation of Chinese tourists in response to complaints that they were rude and disorderly, spitting on the carriage floors and even stealing other tourists’ shoes.
But Waldis says the complaints about Chinese tourists were made in an isolated incident, when a Swiss traveller called the German-language Blick after becoming involved in an altercation with a Chinese tour guide aboard the Rigi train. According to Waldis, additional trains are being added to accommodate the overall increase in tourist activity in the Rigi area and not, as the Blick reported on August 23, specifically to transport Chinese tourists.
Rigi CEO Peter Pfenninger was quoted by Blick as saying that the “strong presence” of the Chinese in the region is “a challenge”. Waldis admits that “for the Swiss, this is a new culture”.
“But I think it is not a big problem,” he added.