Tourism has become a problem in Lauterbrunnen. People expressed their displeasure at the district meeting.
“We are almost desperate, we locals simply have no room left in Lauterbrunnen,” says a resident of Lauterbrunnen (BE). The community is groaning under the influx of tourists. This summer’s experiences were the last straw.
The community felt compelled to give the residents their say. She held a district meeting on Wednesday evening, a “Chropf-Läärete,” as mayor Karl Näpflin called it.
I feel like I live next to a highway
Day tourists cause traffic chaos
Day-trippers are problematic for traffic; they come primarily because of the highest free-falling waterfall in Switzerland: “They come in a rental car, take photos of the Staubbach Falls and then leave again.” This leads to traffic chaos: “I have the feeling that I live next to a motorway, people drive into the valley and out again. “It’s annoying,” complained a resident at the meeting.
In fact, traffic in the valley is often queued for a long time. Why not just build a barrier? “That would be desirable, but it cannot be implemented,” says the mayor of Lauterbrunnen, Karl Näpflin. “On the one hand, there is no legal basis for stopping the cantonal road with a barrier, and on the other hand, it is simply too narrow in the valley.”
Difficult guests and disappointed locals
In addition to the congested streets and full parking spaces, some guests behaved problematically: “People won’t leave on the sidewalk and the streets are packed.” says one participant, another adds: “Old people in particular hardly know how to help themselves anymore.” A third resident complains about the garbage lying around everywhere.
Tourists played football and took photos in the cemetery, that’s not possible.
Karl Näpflin also talks about events from his community: “Tourists played football in our cemetery and took photos standing and lying between the graves. That didn’t suit us at all.” There have even been incidents in private homes: “Today you have to lock the front door if you go briefly into the garden. Otherwise strangers will suddenly be sitting on your own toilet.”
People feel like employees at a theme park.
The village priest Markus Tschanz sums up the concerns of many people: “We feel like employees in an amusement park. Even the carpenter has to speak all languages and has become a tourism employee. We can’t escape this because we live here.”
You can feel the helplessness of the people. How does the community try to mitigate the problems caused by tourism? She put up posters and flyers with rules of conduct. There are also people who regulate traffic.
Twelve mobile toilets have also been set up. The latter was partly prohibited because some toilets were not installed in appropriate zones. “It’s not the goal. “But we had to act illegally for a short time to take immediate measures,” says Karl Näpflin.
Housing shortage as a permanent problem
Many tourist resorts are familiar with this problem. If many apartments are rented out, living space dwindles. Locals find a home difficult and expensive. This is also the case in Lauterbrunnen. Although second homes are no longer allowed to be built there, many existing apartments are sold and then rented out via Airbnb, for example. So they are no longer available to residents. The local council is therefore asking people who own living space to rent it out to locals at reasonable prices.
“These are not permanent solutions. We have to pick people up before they come to the Jungfrau region. They have to know our rules and behavior in the valley, so that they can spend their stay with us,” says Näpflin.
As a permanent solution, for example, entrances with a ticket and barrier for the Staubbach Falls are planned. They want to work out further solutions together with Jungfrau Railways, the largest tourism player in the region. However, even after the district meeting, Karl Näpflin was unable to say exactly what this might look like.