Tourism in the Alps - a nightmare?

In her book "Berg and Breakfast", Selma Mahlknecht analyses what drives people to the mountains, where this leads and what tourism could look like after the Covid 19 pandemic. (Picture zvg)


How much tourism can the Alps take? Selma Mahlknecht presents her book "Berg and Breakfast" in Altdorf. In it she is looking for answers.

The Alps are a place of longing - and have been since the beginnings of tourism in Switzerland. "Unspoilt" nature, picturesque landscapes and the imposing mountain world attract countless people to the Alpine regions year after year to hike, have a spa or go skiing. Tourism has become an important economic factor in the mountain regions, creating jobs, supporting local businesses and reducing migration from these areas.

For the Uri Institute "Cultures of the Alps", tourism is one of the central issues for mountain regions. "We ask ourselves how global warming, the Covid 19 pandemic or other factors influence the development of tourism in the Alpine regions," says Dr Romed Aschwanden, the institute's managing director.

Now the Institute is organising a public event on the topic. On Thursday evening, 10 February 2022, at 6 pm, author Selma Mahlknecht will present her book "Berg and Breakfast" in the Uristier Hall in Altdorf. This will be followed by a panel discussion.

Intensive Tourism Generates Consumer Scenery

The writer and theatrewoman Selma Mahlknecht lives in the Engadine. She has written several works about the effects of tourism on the Alpine region between Italy, Austria and Switzerland. In her book "Berg and Breakfast" Mahlknecht deals with the longing for untouched nature, the fascination for the mountains and the seemingly basic need for a holiday. "With our fascination for the mountains and our longing to go to untouched nature, we endanger the idyll we are looking for," she says. Intensive tourism generates consumer scenery to which the landscape, architecture and gastronomy are subordinated. The excesses of this are present everywhere: hotel complexes, ski lifts on every peak, Ballermann in the mountains.

Selma Mahlknecht approaches the subject from different perspectives. She examines the myth of the mountain, asks why people go travelling. She also shows the side of the people who live and work in the Alpine regions, i.e. where others go on holiday. Finally, she looks at the next developments in the tourism industry. The Covid 19 pandemic, for example, has shown what it means for these regions when there is suddenly a lack of guests from all over the world. But for Selma Mahlknecht, this caesura also offers opportunities: "We can think about what kind of tourism one would like to have in the Alps in the future."

The topic is controversial

After the introductory reading, Selma Mahlknecht and the two historians Dr. Valentin Groebner and Dr. Kurt Gritsch will discuss the topic on the podium. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Romed Aschwanden. Valentin Groebner is Professor of History at the University of Lucerne. His research interests include the history of tourism. Kurt Gritsch is a lecturer at the University of Lucerne. He is currently researching tourism-related labour migration in the Alpine region from the 19th century to the end of the First World War. "I am very much looking forward to discussing the topic controversially with the two scholars and also the audience," says Selma Mahlknecht. "It is always exciting to learn and compare how tourism works in different regions. It triggers emotions in people. That's why I try to reconcile the most diverse points of view in my book."


The event will take place on Thursday, 10 February 2022, at 6 pm in the Uristier Hall at Dätwylerstrasse 27 in Altdorf and is expected to last until 8 pm. Admission is free. The current Corona protection regulations apply (as of 2 February 2022: mask obligation and 2G regulation). Participants are asked to register by email by Sunday, 6 February (email: More information is available at

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