Investments of Swiss cableways – Duc Tiffany

  1. Cableways in Switzerland

1.1. Situation

In Switzerland, the cableways are one of the most important part in the tourism services. They have a great influence on the economical success for every destination.

The last few years, the alpine tourism had more difficulties because of different element such as the weather or the influence of the changing rate of the Swiss Franc. 

According to the “Remontées Mécaniques Suisse”, Switzerland is counting 1749 cableways in the country. Half of it includes ski lifts, and a fifth is represented by the chairlifts, and different types of gondolas.

The biggest part of the cableways is situated in Valais (25%), in the Grisons (19%) and in Berne and eastern Switzerland (15% each).  

Since 1990, the number of cableways is decreasing, mainly because more performing and bigger lifts have replaced the older ones. The last new routes of cableways have been built in 1979 in Saas Fee and 1981 in Evolène. 

1.2. Support for cableways 

Most of the corporations of the Swiss cableways are funded at around 2/3 by privates. While local governments (communes) are the second bigger shareholder (with 22%). It is to their interest to show interest in the cableways as the alpine tourism represent a big part of the local economy.

The majority of the cableways enterprises have credit relation with banks to get most of their funds. Local banks are thereby the most important funding.

One of the few help the confederation is giving, are interested free loans that it deserve only to small enterprises economically weak. But the new regional politic of the confederation (ancient. LIM, loi sur l’aide aux investissements = law on help for investments) is still significant, it represent about 9% of the third party capital.

1.3. How does the corporations use their capital?

The investments are mostly targeting the installations that need to be replaced or renewed. In 2010/11 the total of investment in whole Switzerland was around 459mio. CHF. This outlay has been possible because of the previous year income and the economic recovery of loads of enterprises.

Another aspect to point out is that many different corporations create their own restaurant and hotels with their incomes, to increase their profit thanks to the clients. Those new infrastructures help them to decrease the spending of income due to bad weather and give them a second source of revenue.

2.Austrian cableways 

2.2. Main criteria

In Austria, cableways and winter sport tourism are tightly related. More than 70% of the winter vacationers go to Austria for the winter sports.

Thank to the high investment in the technic and the establishment of exceptional ski slopes and the comfort of the cableways throughout the country.

Nowadays there are around 3’000 facilities (with 254 cableways enterprises and 550 enterprises for smaller facilities such T-bar lifts) that runs the whole winter tourism. Like in Switzerland, the number of cableways is decreasing, replaced by more comfortable and bigger lifts. 

The Austrian cableways are one of the best in quality and safety, thank to the year-to-year high investment in safety, comfort and modernization of the lifts. Around 300mio euro are invested every year for those improvements.

Not only for the cableways but also for the snow, outlays are done, in average, 160-180mio euro can be use to create snow if a season has less snow than another.

But also for every other kind of transportation, around 120mio euro are invested, such as parking, kid slopes, shuttle services etc. 

The Tirol owns the majority of cableways in Austria (36%), then comes Salzburg (20%), Vorarlberg (15%) and Steiermark (12%), finally Kärnten, Niederösterreich and Oberösterreich (respectively 9%, 4% and 4%).

2.3.  What are the main differences with Austrian installations?

Austrians understood the cableways are one of the most important investments on the mountains. They don’t only car about the going up and down with lifts but also for lightening the slopes for night downhill ski, fun parks (half pipes…) and even child slopes etc. With all those offer, they give the winter entertainment much more variations. With one ski pass, the guest gets more than just the transport up and down the mountain!

To attract more tourists they also understood the importance of snow and invested for infrastructure for making snow, more than 66% of the slopes are practicable until the end of the winter season thank to the modern snow makers. 

In addition, they contribute every day from early morning until late by night to the security and comfort on the slopes with around a thousand snowcats working during those hours to improve the quality of their slopes. 

In a few words, from their income and with the help of the state, they are more or less able to invest 300mio euro every year but do not only focus on the cableways but everything that is related to is. What give them more interesting facilities to offer to the tourists.

3.What could we improve?

As we see everything Austria is doing to improve and stay at the top of ski resort, we could try to take some of their ideas.

Austria doesn’t only focus on cableways but on everything that come with it, and that is linked tightly with it (transports, ski activities…). As explained, Swiss cableways have different supports but most of their income mostly focuses on the cableways.

While Austria has used around 300mio euro last year to invest in the different facilities, Switzerland had 490mio CHF (by the time around 330mio euro). Switzerland my need to better understand what the tourists are really looking for in order to better invest and target their most important investment.

As Austria did with the snowmaker, people who have the possibility to ski from start until the end of the season will be much more satisfied than people coming in places where they cannot anymore ski from the top to the station because of the lack of snow.

To conclude, I would say that as describe here, resources shouldn’t be shown as the main problem of cableways. I think that the repartition of the incomes they use fore the infrastructures should be better done.

4. Sources

4.1. DocumentS, PDF

Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft, Familie und Jugend. (2010). Neue Wege im Tourismus. Found on:

Remontées mécaniques suisses. Edition 2012. Faits et chiffres de la branche des remontées mécaniques suisses. Found on :

Grabler K, Schindler M. (2012). “Wirtschaftsbericht der Seilbahnen”: Trends in der Wintersaison 2011/2012. Manova, 2012. Found on:

4.2. Internet

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