What is the best way to promote tourism in harmony with nature at Lake Lauenen? The municipality of Lauenen, the local tourism organization and the population have been working on solutions.
Lake Lauenen is one of the most famous lakes in Switzerland. Which comes with a downside. It often attracts so many tourists on beautiful summer days that the infrastructure around the lake is stretched to its limits. "The traffic situation on such days is difficult, and often it takes a lot of patience. Even if the parking guidance signals a full car park at the lake, some tourists still drive there in the hope of finding a free space, which leads to congestion on the mountain road," Jörg Trachsel, president of the municipality of Lauenen, explained.
In addition, some cyclists drive wherever they want, and dog owners sometimes even let their dogs run free in the core zone of the nature reserve. Wild camping and unauthorised campfires are also problematic in the nature reserve of Lake Lauenen.
To get a grip on these issues, representatives of the municipality and Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus (GST) met with around thirty Lauenen residents on 25 September in the multi-purpose hall in Lauenen. As part of the Lake Lauenen workshop, they analysed the situation and worked out solutions together.
Five groups addressed the following topics: Traffic situation on the Lauenen road, development of offers in nature-based tourism, recreation infrastructure, camping and visitor guidance.
A dynamic public transport system with on-call buses – i.e. a demand-oriented service that supplements the existing bus routes by offering travel options at off-peak times – together with a driving ban (not applicable to residents) should ease the traffic situation.
Furthermore, new service ideas such as "Gälteschüssi" or "Abesitze" were developed to promote the sale of regional products. Existing associations such as the K.U.H (Kultur und Handwerk) and the village organisation should be involved in this area. In terms of recreational infrastructure, the toilet situation is to be improved and the barbecue sites around the lake regulated.
And in response to wild camping, an offer of fixed pitches could be created. The erection of a yurt or tepee was also considered, without specifying possible locations yet.
There is no definitive timeline for realising these ideas, but Trachsel said that the aim was to implement them promptly. Jan Brand, the GST project manager in charge, added that small projects could be implemented relatively fast, such as anchoring benches to prevent people from displacing them.
Introducing a ranger earlier this year was a successful first step in the right direction, Brand recalls.
"Every visitor at Lake Lauenen is welcome and should have a great experience. We don't want people to stay away," said Jörg Trachsel, who was satisfied with the workshop results. Brand also thought the approaches were promising. "Lake Lauenen is a true gem of our region that we need to take care of," he said, emphasising that the aim is not to attract more and more tourists to the lake: "We are striving for a sustainable form of tourism. Visitors should have a good time while nature remains unharmed.
Based on AvS/Kerem S Maurer