Swiss Town Mulls Imposing Entry for Tourists to Reduce Crowding

After being overrun by tourists, a Swiss alpine community is planning to implement an entrance tax similar to Venice’s.

The Bernese Oberland town of Lauterbrunnen has seen a dramatic increase in summertime tourism. But it is concerning that many of these lookie-loos just wander around for a day and don’t spend much money.

Concurrently, at the same time as the town is seeing record-high visitation, residents have reportedly accused visitors of inappropriate conduct. Cultural clashes are common. What is appropriate in one country might be the height of boorishness in another. (Two Australians outraged the locals by wearing speedos at the Thai airport.)

This follows last month’s deadly riots in Venice, where demonstrators were demonstrating against the proposed ‘tourist tax’ on short-stay tourists.

Protesters carrying placards and banners lined the ancient canals and winding streets of the Italian town to voice their disapproval of the novel strategy to curb over-tourism during peak seasons.

Critics saw the €5 (£4.30) charge, which was in place in Venice until May 5 and on weekends until July 14, as ineffective in reducing the approximately 30 million annual visitors.

Day travelers driving up to Lauterbrunnen will also be required to pay an entrance fee of five to ten francs (£4.33). Due to pending clarifications, the charge may not be implemented in Lauterbrunnen for some time.

Last month, Venice became the first city in the world to charge an entrance fee for day-tripper tourists. The goal is to reduce the number of short-stay visitors who produce unmanageable congestion during peak hours. Resident organizations pleaded with the city to reconsider the plan, but Venice still followed through.

Following the so-called “tourist tax” controversy, several Italian resident groups are organizing demonstrations to mark the introduction of the policy.

Protest marches with large crowds waving colorful banners were held in opposition to the plan.

Rather than addressing the underlying problems, representatives said the charge would tarnish the city’s reputation.