An often-voiced criticism of tourism in Switzerland is the lack of affordable accommodation. The city council in Lausanne is considering a plan that may help travellers with limited means.
The Social Democrat councillor, Grégoire Junod, has proposed that the city authorities look into setting up a network of bed and breakfast accommodation.
He has suggested a three-step approach: canvass opinion to find out how many people are prepared to open up their homes to outsiders; draw up a contract guaranteeing minimum standards; and finally, get the scheme, co-ordinated by Lausanne Tourism, up and running.
Tourism is Lausanne's biggest industry. Last year, there were 840,000 overnight stays in the city's hotels, and it's estimated that tourism brings almost a billion francs a year into the local economy. Yet, like many other destinations in Switzerland, there is a definite gap at the lower end of the market.
"Seven years ago, the city of Lausanne, along with the International Olympic Committee and Lausanne Tourism set up the Jeunôtel, which was the first of its kind in Switzerland," said Harry John, of Lausanne Tourism.
"We also have 10 to 15 cheap hotels and a number of campsites. We'd be interested in any bed and breakfast scheme that would offer low-price accommodation, "
One obstacle the office has to overcome is that, unlike northern Europe, there is no real bed and breakfast tradition in Switzerland.
"If there's a clear structure behind the plan and we can get enough people involved in a large enough area, then I believe we can make it a success. But if we only find a few people willing to take part, then it will be difficult to promote and market, " John said.
He added that it is not just tourists who will benefit from cheap accommodation: "We see a demand not only on the leisure side of things, but also on the business side. 65 to 70 per cent of the clientele in Lausanne's hotels is related to business meetings, conferences, conventions and so on."
"For any major international conference, there's also a need for cheap accommodation, especially when you have delegates coming from eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, " he said. "Bed and breakfast could definitely help to fill that niche."
by Roy Probert