Belle Époque Pavillion Flims. Photo:

The Beginning of European Tourism

The 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, passing through  Switzerland.

The Alps, lakes and mountainous landscapes also attracted the attention of poets and writers, increasing the awareness of  (British) citizens.

The political history and cantonal organisation without a monarchy or aristocracy also inspired thinkers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and Edward Gibbon (1737-1794).

Alpinism started around 1800-1820, when the first Britons climbed mountains of more than 3 000 meters. In 1857, they founded the Alpine Club in London and the Swiss Alpine Club.

Around 1850, Swiss alpine villages began to market themselves as health resorts. Tourism was booming and mainly British visitors travelled in large numbers to Switzerland.

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 presents the heyday of tourism around 1900.

The museum shows many artefacts from this period, hotel rooms, and the touristic way of life of Lords, Ladies and other visitors (Source