Thomas Aeschi, who heads up the SVP party in the Swiss parliament made his controversial comments after a recent skiing trip to the Engelberg-Titlis mountain area in central Switzerland.
In a tweet, he said: “Overtourism on the Engelberg-Titlis. As a skier, you can hardly get to the summit.”
#Overtourism auf @EngelbergTitlis. Als Skifahrer kommt man kaum noch auf den Gipfel. #Schengen und #Dublin kosten die #Schweiz viel mehr als sie uns nutzen. Und die Zuwanderung gehört wieder eigenständig gesteuert. #BGIJa! pic.twitter.com/77EQnpAvYJ
— Thomas Aeschi (@thomas_aeschi) April 19, 2019
“Schengen and Dublin cost Switzerland more than they bring us. And we need to control our own immigration again,” the politician added, referring to the fraught relationship between Switzerland and the EU.
Aeschi’s SVP party has repeatedly campaigned for tighter controls on immigration and has backed a referendum calling for an end to free movement of people between the EU and Switzerland.
But his comments about the queues at Engelberg-Titlis met with a frosty reception, especially given the struggles of the Swiss ski industry in recent years.
“And you call yourself a member of a business party. Stay home next time. That would help everyone,” one Twitter user replied to Aeschi’s tweet.
Und Sie nennen sich Mitglied einer Wirtschaftspartei. Bleiben Sie das nächste Mal einfach zu Hause. Damit wäre allen geholfen.
— Stefan Meier (@Stef_M_21) April 24, 2019
“How many asylum seekers are there on the Titlis?” another Twitter user asked.
Achtung, die Zuwanderer kommen! Oder kamen? pic.twitter.com/9mWtrbBo1g
— René Zollinger (@zollinger_rene) April 24, 2019
Another Twitter account holder said it was all about gaining attention during an election year. Switzerland is set to go to the polls in October.
Wahljahr und auffallen um jeden Preis… Da kann man auch als intelligenter Mensch ja schon mal die Zusammenhängen etwas durcheinander bringen, gell?.
— Rene Ryhner (@ReneRyhner) April 24, 2019
Meanwhile, the head of marketing for Titlis-Bergbahnen cable cars, Peter Reinle, conceded there was sometimes a waiting time to go up the mountain on busy days.
But in comments made to ch media in he said it was “strange that a business-oriented politician would put his political opinions above the health of the Swiss tourism industry”.
Reinle also noted that thanks to foreign guests, and especially Asians, the ski season on Titlis could run until the end of May.
Without these visitors, the season would be a month shorter as it would not be profitable to operate lifts, he explained.
The Titlis cable car installations are soon set for a major revamp with star Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron behind the project.