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The alpabfahrt, or alpine descent, is one of the most popular events in the Entlebuch region of Switzerland, with ten thousands of visitors each year. At the end of September, farmer’s families come back from the mountain pastures with their cows, which are decorated with flowers. At Schüpfheim, costume societies, yodelling choirs, horn players, flag throwers and other folklore groups welcome them and entertain the visitors who come for this special occasion. A regional product and cheese market is also organised.93

“Thanks to the involvement of mountain farmers in the organising committee, the preservation of values and traditions is guaranteed despite the evolution and adaptation of the alpabfahrt to the need of visitors”94

  • Enhancement of the region’s intangible heritage and better visibility of their cultural practices. Practitioners have a space to sell their products directly to visitors, without intermediaries.
  • The mountain farmers are directly involved in the organisation of the event, which allows them to preserve their values and traditions.
  • The Entlebuch region has been designated by UNESCO as the first Swiss biosphere reserve, because of its natural landscape but also its cultural life.95
  • The tourism success of the region has led to a revival of identity within bearer communities, particularly for traditional theatre practitioners.96
  • This new attractiveness has provoked a wave of urbanisation as well as agricultural intensification in the region, but measures are taken to counterbalance negative effects97, including recurrent monitoring, the development of strategy papers for the tourism sector, and setting up forums of exchange and cooperation with the associations and the different communities involved.

Collaboration: The alpabfahrt became a new tourism attraction in 2003, thanks to cooperation between Tourism Sörenberg Flühli, Tourism Schüpfheim and the Association of Mountain farming. The UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch is also part of the tourism success of this region and of the safeguarding of its ICH. Forum meetings are organised regularly with the stakeholders, realising a high degree of transparency and also awareness of “bottlenecks” and risks associated with tourism among the people involved.

Web Dossier on Intangible Cultural Heritage and sustainable tourism