Period IV

Belle Époque Pavillion Flims. Photo:

The Beginning of European Tourism

Tourism and the healthcare industry in Switzerland began in the early 19th century. Before that time, most visitors were traders, politicians, pilgrims and above all (British upper class) men and a few women who travelled across Europe on their Grand Tour, in particular to Italy, passing through  Switzerland. The Alps, lakes and picturesque landscapes also attracted the attention of poets and writers, increasing the awareness of ever more (British) citizens. The political history and cantonal organisation without a monarchy or influential aristocracy also inspired thinkers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and Edward Gibbon (1737-1794).

Alpinism started around 1800-1820 when the first British mountaineers climbed mountains of more than 3 000 meters. In 1857, Britons founded the Alpine Club in London and the Swiss Alpine Club in 1857. By 1850, Swiss alpine villages began to market themselves as health resorts. There was a real tourism revolution in Switzerland and (mainly British) visitors began travelling to Switzerland in large numbers. Mountain passes, coach services and the railway made the mountainous regions accessible to a broader public and Graubünden became a popular destination.

The Belle Époque Hotel Museum in Flims in Graubünden presents the heyday of this (European) tourism around 1900. The museum shows many artefacts from this period, hotel rooms and the way of touristic life of Lords, Ladies and other tourists (Source