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St Moritz tourism boss scoops lifetime award

Hanspeter Danuser, Director of tourism for St Moritz Verkehrsverein St. Moritz

The director of tourism in St Moritz, Hanspeter Danuser, has won this year’s “Milestone” prize for lifetime achievement.

He spoke to swissinfo about how he put St Moritz on the tourist map by turning the resort into a brand in its own right.

Danuser was awarded one of “Milestone” prizes in recognition of his 25 years’ service to the tourism industry.

In the 1980s, he registered the name St Moritz as a trademark – an innovative move at the time – lending the ski village additional exclusivity.

Since then St Moritz has become one of the most widely recognised tourist destinations in Switzerland.

Danuser latest innovation is to market St Moritz as a leader in eco-tourism. But he admits he has had to be careful given the resort’s extensive tourism infrastructure and its plethora of snowmaking equipment.

swissinfo: Why was your move to license the name St Moritz so revolutionary? Did people here in Switzerland believe that a town could not be turned into a brand?

Hanspeter Danuser: At the time it was something new in the tourism industry to work with brand names. It was considered somewhat exotic to turn the name of a town into a brand. Many people shook their heads, so to speak, and thought this was just another public relations gag.

swissinfo: The tourism industry has accused you of working too hard to make St Moritz a success while not doing anything to market tourism in the rest of Switzerland. Why haven’t you used your experiences to help the Swiss tourism industry in general?

HD: I am a brand person by nature – I was indoctrinated while working at Nestlé. “St Moritz” is one of the most well known brand names in the tourism industry. And if you can work here, you don’t really want to move anywhere else.

One of the reasons for not marketing all of Switzerland is because it would be a nightmare to do so. It wouldn’t be a strong brand, because it’s too heterogeneous to be unique.

swissinfo: Switzerland has plenty of unspoilt countryside – why were you hesitant to market St Moritz as an eco-friendly resort?

HD: The tourism business in St Moritz is pretty intense. For example, there are about 250 snow cannon in the area to make artificial snow. So if I had attempted to market the place as environmentally friendly – it would have backfired. There is one exception, though – St Moritz has worked together with the public transportation authorities to reduce emissions.

Things started to change in 1999 when a company called Rätia Energy was given a licence to produce electricity for the resort. Today “PurePower St Moritz” offers eco-friendly electricity in the region.

swissinfo: The Interlaken theme park, Mystery Park, won this year’s “Milestone” award, the top prize for excellence and innovation in tourism. What is your opinion of the park?

HD: I was really fascinated by the park. I think it took a lot of initiative to set something like that up. The park is not overwhelming and is attractive to modern-day consumers of this type of entertainment.

swissinfo, Alexander Künzle (translated by Karin Kamp)

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR