Back 200 years ago, the mountainous regions of Switzerland were largely off limits in the minds of the local population. But thanks in part to the curious British, the Swiss Alps have become easily accessible just a few generations later.
The rapid development of Switzerland's rocky assets into a year-round entertainment complex brings about some important issues which need to be addressed. Especially so as Switzerland is toying with the idea of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022.
Chairlifts transporting up to 43'636 skiers to the top every hour, black diamond slopes for expert snowboarders and blue "freeway" slopes for downhill racers are scarring much of the Alpine landscape. But at the same time, tourism is a chief industry in this landlocked country which has little resources to export.
All of these realities raise the question of mass tourism's impact on nature.
In his publication "Winter Wonderland" and as part of an exhibit at Alpines Museum in Bern, Austrian photographer Lois Hechenblaikner is showing us the mirror: As he visits ski resorts in the Alps, Hechenblaikner captures ugly scenes of "après ski" parties, wooden chalets reminiscent of Disneyland, and even a notorious Porsche commercial featuring a real car.
What's your opinion? Is Switzerland an Alpine playground or a "Winter Wonderland"?