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Tourism prizewinner is no mystery

Mystery Park near Interlaken has proved a big attraction Keystone

The Interlaken theme park, Mystery Park, has walked off with this year’s “Milestone”, the top prize for excellence and innovation in tourism.

This content was published on October 28, 2003 - 16:43

Based on the extraterrestrial theories of the best-selling Swiss author, Erich von Däniken, the park has exceeded expectations since it opened earlier this year.

At a ceremony in Bern on Tuesday, the Milestone jury honoured the “courage” of the Mystery Park’s founders to press on with the project despite reluctance on the part of banks to finance it.

The park welcomed about 200,000 visitors in its first 100 days – 40 per cent above the company’s original forecasts.

Accepting the award, managing director Oswald Zurbriggen said the company was also buoyed by the fact that “visitors had begun returning a second time”.

When Mystery Park opened in May, it became Switzerland’s first theme park.

All inclusive

Second prize in the main category went to the alpine resort of Arosa for its “all inclusive” offer.

In an effort to improve occupancy rates in summer, the all-inclusive “ArosaCard” is given to every hotel guest, granting them during their stay free access to most of the resort’s services, including its cable car network.

Arosa has, according to the Milestone jury, registered a significant increase in turnover thanks to the offer.

Hans-Kaspar Schwarzenbach, Arosa’s director of tourism, said the all-inclusive card showed that the authorities and operators in the resort were willing to “take financial risks” for the good of the entire community.

St Moritz

Hanspeter Danuser, the director of tourism in St Moritz, was given the Milestone prize for lifetime achievement.

During 25 years of service to the exclusive ski resort, Danuser has been a pioneer in marketing St Moritz abroad.

In the 1980s, Danuser gave St Moritz the label “Heidiland” in order to make the resort more attractive in summer to the Japanese, and also registered the name St Moritz as a trademark, lending the village additional exclusivity.

Recently, he has spearheaded a publicity campaign, positioning the resort as a leader in ecotourism.

In an interview with swissinfo, Danuser hinted that St Moritz should serve as a model for all of Switzerland as a tourist destination.

“We have to do more to promote the country’s exclusive qualities,” he said, in an appeal to Switzerland Tourism, the tourist industry’s marketing organisation.

“That means improved event marketing in combination with the careful positioning of the name, Switzerland Tourism.”

Tree house

A special prize for the best “small and innovative” project went to Switzerland’s first tree house accommodation.

The bed and breakfast tree house, “Couett’Nid”, in the town of Le Locle in canton Neuchâtel, accommodates up to four people.

The jury commended the couple that started Couett’Nid for filling a niche and providing an example of how “small, out-of-the-way places can draw attention to themselves with original ideas and limited financial resources”.

The Milestone prize was launched in 2000 to reward and promote innovative projects at a time when stagnation had set into the industry.

The prize is sponsored by the Swiss Hotel Association, the Swiss Tourism Federation and the economics ministry.

swissinfo, Dale Bechtel and Alexander Kuenzle

milestone

Erich von Däniken’s Mystery Park in Interlaken won the top Milestone prize, and SFr10,000 ($7,600).
Second place and SFr5,000 went to Arosa’s all-inclusive card.
The St Moritz tourist director, Hanspeter Danuser, was given a lifetime achievement award.
The bed and breakfast in a tree house, “Couett’Nid”, was awarded SFr3,000 in the category “small and innovative”.
A prize of SFr10,000 for the most exceptional young talent went to 26-year-old cook, Ivo Adam.
There were 74 entries in total.

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