Saturday, May 7, 2016

Saas-Fee. A Model for Tourism Sustainability

Skiing is about connecting with Mother Nature, unfortunately however ski resorts can have a negative impact on the environment. In recent years more ski resorts have begun to understand the importance of being eco friendly and protecting the environment where they can.
Consistently ranked as one of the top eco friendly ski resorts in the world, Saas Fee is a typical picturesque resort with plenty of alpine charm.

Saas-Fee is the main village in the Saastal, one of the most scenically beautiful and diverse valleys in the Valais and in the Alps. This car-free village lies on a high plateau 1800 metres above sea level, nestling amongst the icy dome of the Allalinhorn and the rocky group of the Mischabel chain. Their typical old Valais wooden houses create the perfect setting for winter holidays, deserving of its name “Pearl of the Alps”. Saas-Fee has some of the most restrictive building and zoning regulations in Switzerland. All buildings must have a gabled roof and at least one third of the facade of the building must be built of wood. The typical Valais style of Chalet can be maintained with these measures.

The foundation for creating a resort conscious of the environment and of quality was laid in 1951, when the community made the decision to keep the village car-free. The absence of cars in Saas-Fee contributes considerably to the relaxed holiday atmosphere and romantic character of the village where there is no stress from traffic. Guests benefit from the peace and quiet, the good quality of the air and the freedom of movement in the streets.
In 1998, car-free resorts in Switzerland which care about a high quality of service and the environment joined forces to form the Society of Car-free Swiss Resorts. The
Gemeinschaft Autofreier Schweizer Tourismusorte (GAST in short) is a network of nine car-free Swiss touristy communities (Bettmeralp,Braunwald, Riederalp, Rigi, Saas-Fee, Stoos, Wengen-Mürren andZermatt) that promotes car-free recreation and holiday experiences in alpine resorts. The resorts commit themselves to nine decided quality criteria, which are checked regularly.
The Gemeinschaft Autofreier Schweizer Tourismusorte has made car-free vacations their credo. In their cities’ images, there was no more room for petrol engines.
Saas-Fee committed itself to the Alliance in the Alps project as a pilot community in 1996. The Alliance in the Alps community network initiated in collaboration with CIPRA (Commission Internationale pour la Protection des Alpes) is an association comprising over 250 communities located throughout the Alpine region, from France to Slovenia. The member communities have come together in support of the goals of the Alpine Convention for sustainable development in the Alps. To this end they work in close contact with the resident populations to improve the ecological, social and economic situation in their communities.

Saas-Fee was awarded the status of Energy Town in June 2002. The label represents the introduction of actual quality control concerning communal energy policies and is awarded to towns and communities which -in proportion to the possibilities at their disposal- go to exceptional lengths to implement energy and traffic policies in their community.
Saas-Fee was the first resort in Switzerland to introduce fees for refuse bags in 1994. By means of this fee, residents are called upon to sort refuse exactly and to produce less refuse in general. Household refuse may only be disposed of in the official bags which carry a fee.

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