A municipality in canton Graubünden in eastern Switzerland has launched its own political party aimed at supporting the tourism industry.
Swiss tourism is a CHF16.2 billion ($16.3 billion) industry that employs roughly 170,000 people. But some fear that without stronger political engagement, the future of Swiss tourism looks bleak.
In Graubünden, where tourism accounts for roughly one in four jobs, the Arosa Tourism Office has taken matters into its own hands by launching a “Tourism Party”. As its name suggests, the new political group is dedicated to supporting Swiss tourism, as well as members of parliament who are committed to the industry.
Pascal Jenny is the director of the tourism office in Arosa, a popular ski destination, and the leader of the new party. “Politicians must say publicly what they will do for tourism,” Jenny told the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.
He expressed concern that tourism does not have enough support in the Swiss parliament and that this weakness has been exacerbated in the past year by the strong franc’s negative impact on tourism numbers.
He also said that the industry is threatened by the lack of a coherent vision. “We need to agree on a few concerns and support them together,” he said.
While the party is a good example of how Swiss citizens can use direct democracy to address issues of concern to them, there is some disagreement over its usefulness as a political tool.
The President of the Swiss Tourism Federation, Dominique de Buman, expressed surprise at the news of the party, calling it a “strategic mistake”. He said a single party dedicated to tourism could reduce the emphasis on tourism elsewhere, leading to the opposite of the intended effect.
swissinfo.ch and agencies