Hiking danger – swissinfo

There’s been a sharp increase in hiking and climbing accidents in Switzerland over the past few years. This year alone, at least 40 people have died in the Swiss Alps. It is believed that people often over-estimate their abilities. (SF/swissinfo.ch)
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Edelweiss going commercial

580255_35656485.jpgThe edelweiss, one of the symbols of Switzerland, could soon be heading down from the alpine slopes into florists’ shops. Scientists say that they have managed to grow the bloom at ground level and with stems long enough for bouquets. The whitish star-shaped edelweiss normally grows at between 2,000 and 3,000 metres in altitude. It has been a protected species in Switzerland since 1962. Extracts of the edelweiss, and particularly the Helvetia variety, are used in suncare products and in anti-wrinkle creams. It is believed that the plant’s antioxidant properties, a result of its exposure to strong ultra-violet light at altitude, means that it can counteract the human body’s ageing process. The flower has long been used in logos and in thousands of tourist articles.

R2-D2 kidnapped from museum

r2d2.jpgUnidentified thieves have stolen a replica of the Star Wars robot R2-D2 from a film prop museum in Frauenfeld, canton Thurgau. According to local police, the theft must have occurred some time between the beginning of the month and Tuesday, when some objects were reported missing. The thieves broke into a basement storage room, making off with an exact copy of the famed robot character as well as other items. It is not known if they left the talkative 3CPO behind. The 1.2-metre-high robot is worth thousands of Swiss francs according to its owner, Roman Güttinger. Güttinger’s hoard of props from horror, adventure and science fiction films is considered the biggest private collection in Europe. He has gathered around 2,500 items, including rarities such as the monster from the Alien films and the Batmobile from Batman.

I’m too sexy for my skis

ski.jpgSwitzerland’s tourist industry is heading into the winter season flush with confidence, featuring a bare-chested ski instructor in its new marketing campaign. Switzerland Tourism‘s advertising features a topless male ski instructor. A competition is part of the international campaign. Up for grabs is a weeklong ski holiday, including private ski instruction. Anyone taking part votes for the ski instructor shown on the Switzerland Tourism website they consider the most attractive. Each week, the candidates receiving the fewest votes are dropped from the list until only the “best-looking ski instructor” remains. There will be a draw to choose the winner of the ski package. This is not the first time tourism has bet on sex appeal: last year, a campaign tried to attract women to Switzerland during football’s World Cup.

Swiss to design solar sub

sub.jpgAre the Swiss edging closer to cuckoo land? The latest cunning plan to attract tourists seems to indicate this might be the case. BLS railways and Bern power company BKW are backing the development of the world’s first submarine powered by the sun. An off-the-rack submarine would be upgraded to run off solar power, ie electricity generated by floating solar platforms. Final destination: Lake Thun, where up to 50 passengers/tourists will be able to dive, dive, dive and discover the wonders of a muddy lake bottom… The first step will be a feasibility study of Project Goldfish. BKW and BLS are both hoping other investors will be prepared to dig deep… This is not the first time a submarine might be used to explore the bottom of a lake with paying passengers. In 1964, during the national exhibition, a mesoscaphe took people to visit Lake Geneva from down below. Today, it sits at Lucerne’s transport museum.

Tourism industry takes note of climate change

tourism.jpgClimate change is slowly becoming an issue for tourism specialists. High-ranking officials have been gathering in the Swiss resort of Davos to find ways to deal with it. The meeting called by the United Nations World Tourism Organization discussed measures including how reduce the industry’s large carbon footprint, but ended up with just a plea that efforts to reduce this footprint should not come at the expense of poor nations. The UNWTO says that tourism is responsible for up to six per cent of the world’s total CO2 emissions. It appeared that delegates at the meeting were taking little notice of the environmental damage they are causing. For more information about climate change and its impact on tourism, also see swissinfo’s special dossier.