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SWISSTAINABLE: Leading the way for sustainable travel in Switzerland

A new approach to sustainable travel in Switzerland is set to deliver world-class green services for visitors and locals alike, writes Andrew Conway.

The high-level, nationwide strategy named ‘Swisstainable’ is much more than just a slick marketing campaign with a clever name. It’s been designed to become a way of life, not only for the Swiss population but for every traveller who visits and tours the country.

Delivering sustainable travel options that range from eco-friendly transport to deep-delving cultural experiences, it’s no wonder that Switzerland’s new campaign is already attracting green-minded travellers from around the globe.

Escape to Switzerland: Nature’s playground 

Switzerland has long been synonymous with nature in its purest form. Monumental mountain landscapes. Shimmering lakes. Alpine meadows covered with delicate wildflowers. These are the cornerstones of the country’s pristine wilderness.

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Berglistueber Waterfall, Switzerland
Berglistueber © Andreas Gerth/ Switzerland Tourism

A total of 19 Swiss parks cover more than one-eighth of the nation’s land area, and almost a third of the country remains forested. Meanwhile, Switzerland’s waterways are so clean people can swim safely in lakes and rivers, even in the heart of major cities.

The country is also home to a range of incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites. These include Biosfera Engiadina Val Müstair – The Swiss National Park, the spectacular Tectonic Arena Sardona and Biosphere Entlebuch – Switzerland’s first biosphere reserve.

Sustainable travel in times of global change

Given the current state of global affairs, if ever there was a time when the world needs to revel and soak in such blissful surroundings, surely it is now.

Urs Eberhard, Executive Vice President of Switzerland Tourism, believes sustainable travel to Switzerland is exactly what people need during these changeling times.

“Fresh, clean air, crystal-clear water and wide-open spaces have never been more important [than] during this time of global challenges,” Urs says.

“People are simply longing to be outdoors in nature and have time to breathe in the wonderful scenery of a country like Switzerland.”

Greenest countries in the world 

Switzerland is one of the greenest countries in the world. Such a fortunate country might take its surroundings for granted in the hope that nature will take care of itself – but not Switzerland. This alluring land-locked nation of 8.5 million people has long understood a key fact: protecting and preserving the environment is paramount for ongoing prosperity.

In line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the Swiss Federal Council has committed to a climate-neutral Switzerland by 2050.

The country has already achieved remarkable success towards this goal. Switzerland’s air pollution emission rates are among the lowest of any OECD nation. The country was also ranked the third ‘greenest’ country in the world by the 2020 Environmental Protection Index, with a score of 81.5.

Switzerland strives to produce resources using renewable energy to further promote its green economy. Meanwhile, the Swiss people rank among the world’s top consumers of organic food and products, as well as being global leaders in recycling and waste management.

Foraging for world-class food at Wartegg Castle grounds in Rorschacherberg
Foraging for world-class food at Wartegg Castle grounds in Rorschacherberg © Giglio Pasqua

Working towards sustainable travel in Switzerland

Sustainability has shaped Switzerland for decades, fuelled by the nation’s predominant use of hydroelectric power. Now, the innovative new Swisstainable strategy extends across Switzerland’s entire travel and tourism sector, covering the length and breadth of the country.

“Swiss people are extremely passionate about Switzerland, the beauty of our country, and we want to share it with visitors from all over the world,” says Eberhard. “But we also know we have to be really careful not to destroy what we love, and it’s extremely important to find the right balance between the needs of our people, the needs of our visitors, and also the needs of the environment,” he adds.

Eberhard says more than 600 tourism operators and businesses have signed up to commit to the Swisstainable strategy. These range from public transport providers to hotels, restaurants and tour operators, all working towards sustainable travel in Switzerland.

Travel to Switzerland: The Swisstainable Way 

Far from being a detriment to the visitor experience, the new program is designed to enhance it. “Sustainable travel doesn’t mean having to sacrifice a good time, it can actually give people lots of satisfaction and a much more meaningful experience,” says Eberhard.

Swisstainable focuses on four different sustainable travel aspects which will encourage visitors to enjoy nature up close, explore local culture, consume regional products and stay longer for a deeper, more authentic travel experience.

The new campaign provides ideas for ways to make an entire trip to Switzerland sustainable. From getting around the country to eco-friendly accommodation, sustainable travel experiences and tour providers to tips on green eating and drinking, sustainable travel in Switzerland is a breeze thanks to Swisstainable.

Cube Aletsch is accommodation right by the Eggishorn mountain station
Cube Aletsch is accommodation right by the Eggishorn mountain station © Pascal Gertschen, Switzerland Tourism

Efficient and eco-friendly freedom to move

Two of the most important elements of the new sustainable travel in Switzerland Swisstainable program are ease and freedom of movement across the country.

The Swiss Travel System is one of the densest, most efficient and climate-friendly public transport networks in the world. It connects the country by trains, boats, buses, cable cars, biking and hiking trails – linked by the all-encompassing Swiss Travel Pass.

Take the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) for example, which is already 90 per cent run on hydroelectric power. It emits less CO2 than any other motorised transport, with the goal of 100 per cent by 2025. Meanwhile, the Rhaetian Railway has been emission-free since 2013, and even Switzerland’s most luxurious boat– the MS Diamant on Lake Lucerne – is climate-neutral.

On top of this, Switzerland’s legendary E-Grand Tour is the world’s first 100 per cent electric road route with approximately 300 charging stations along the way.

Additionally, a myriad of Switzerland’s public transport options ranging from catamarans to cable cars, PostBus services, funiculars and scenic railways are operated by hydroelectric or solar power. And even the upscale ski resort of Zermatt – one of the most popular places to visit in Switzerland – is blissfully car-free.

Genferseegebiet Golden
Genferseegebiet Golden © Switzerland Tourism/Valentin Flauraud

Experience sustainable travel in Switzerland

This new approach to sustainable travel in Switzerland is set to make the country an even more appealing destination for discerning, eco-minded travellers. And Eberhard for one believes the Swisstainable campaign will greatly enrich the visitor experience to Switzerland.

“We want all of our visitors to feel empowered when they visit our country, we want them to feel good and feel that nature can really energise them,” he says.

Start planning your trip to Switzerland and find out more about how to be Swisstainable by visiting

Cycling through the Swiss Alps
Cycling through the Swiss Alps © Andreas Gerth, Switzerland Tourism

This article originally appeared in volume 40 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.