Background - 02.07.2024 - 15:00 

Ticino and Valais: Options for travel this summer?

The heavy rainfall, storms, floods, landslides and debris in Ticino and Valais have caused bridges to collapse and damaged important traffic routes. How will the situation in the two regions affect this year's summer season? HSG tourism expert Pietro Beritelli sorts it out.

In Switzerland, July is the main holiday season. Together with Graubünden, Ticino and Valais are the largest mountain cantons in Switzerland. Due to the recent natural events, HSG Professor Pietro Beritelli expects a decline in short stays and day trips in the affected regions. Due to the current bad weather conditions and traffic obstructions, he believes visitors will postpone or cancel short trips to the region. However, the tourism expert does not believe that the summer season as a whole will be affected. "The A13 north-south axis, which has been destroyed locally, is expected to be open to one lane of traffic again starting on July 5. If you want to go to Italy or the Adriatic, you can also take a wide detour around the A13 via Austria or the Alpine passes." At present, the current challenges are local incidents and entire valleys or regions are not affected.

Reaching the destination via detours 

Based on the "visitor flow approach" a distinction needs to be made between different groups, explains Pietro Beritelli. "There are travellers whose destination is Ticino or Valais. Those who are planning a longer stay and those passing through." In areas such as Valle Maggia or small mountain valleys that are not heavily frequented, tourists will have to decide according to the situation at the time, says Beritelli. Those who have booked a longer stay will be able to enjoy their vacation as usual and adapt accordingly on site. Those traveling through on the north-south axis towards Italy and the Adriatic coast will have to plan more travel time. As a study conducted during the pandemic has also shown, Beritelli says: "People are driven to discover new things or travel to familiar places – despite the risk of having to adapt and find a solution with a certain understanding of risk." 

No panic, but respect

"Travel is always a risk," says Pietro Beritelli. Weather risks have to be taken into account. You also have to expect more and more turbulence on flights. Good advance planning is important: "Not only the outward journey is important for a successful vacation, but also the question of how to get home again." For example, the official Valais tourism organization has posted information on possible routes and the condition of the roads on the website. "Tourism organizations are information carriers," explains Beritelli. They provide factual information about the accommodation and the situation in the entire region. If necessary, they work with the hotels to ensure supplies are available. However, crisis communication in acute emergency situations is more in the hands of the municipalities, explains Beritelli. Anyone looking for warnings and forecasts for a country can find these in the recommendations of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). 

According to Pietro Beritelli, Switzerland's image as a tourist destination is good. "This is also reflected in the number of overnight stays, eventhough prices are high by international standards." The Alpine ridge between Ticino and Valais offers wonderful landscapes for hiking. The valleys are generally easy to reach and the clean lakes are perfect for swimming. "Many people who go hiking have bad shoes on relatively easy routes. 100 and 200 years ago, people were much more at the mercy of weather hazards and had a better feel for nature and the terrain," emphasizes Pietro Beritelli. In high alpine terrain, it is particularly important to be well prepared and equipped when hiking, biking or skiing. 

Festival time: open-air events are particularly at risk 

Summertime is festival time. "OpenAir St.Gallen" in Sittertobel was a success this weekend despite rain and thunderstorms. However, major event organizers in regions with security risks face logistical challenges. OpenAir and festival visitors are the biggest risk group according to the visitor flow approach, says Pietro Beritelli. "When organizers are surprised by the dynamics of the weather, accidents occur and infrastructure collapses." Wind gusts, tornadoes and hurricanes will increase in the future. “OpenAir in St.Gallen is often rainy, but its location in the Sittertobel Valley is more sheltered from thunderstorms than flat terrain, as we have seen in similar events in Germany, Denmark and Holland, for example.” Open spaces are exposed to stronger meteorological events. "This year's summer is special. Events have already had to be cancelled or postponed. For image and economic reasons, however, the organizers always try to hold the events." For example, the St.Gallen Festival was moved to the Flumserberg due to the weather conditions. 

Tips for bad weather days at: und

Image: Nufenen Pass between the cantons of Valais and Ticino (Adobe Stock / matho)

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