According to the 2017 Tourism Monitor Switzerland, tourism connected to heritage is at the top of international visitors’ activities: historical sites, churches, and cathedrals, museums and exhibitions, castles and fortresses. The cultural offer is of great economic importance. According to official figures, tourism generated around 2.8 % of the country’s gross domestic product in 2015 and employs around 4 % of the working population.
Switzerland’s cultural heritage as a cultural resource forms an important basis for the supply-oriented strategy in destinations, including heritage sites (“Ortsbilder”). The Federal Inventory of Heritage Sites of national importance (ISOS), which is the responsibility of the Federal Office of Culture (FOC), classifies around 1200 heritage sites (2020) as worthy of protection and of “national importance” (e.g. the villages in the Lower Engadine). The ISOS provides a planning basis for the federal government, cantons and municipalities to ensure high-quality settlement development, which also has an impact on cultural tourism offerings.
Several initiatives have emerged to promote historical sites and landscapes (see chapter 3.1).