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Swiss Youth Hostels practising sustainability May 30, 2012

2011 Annual Report now available

“Sustainable development” is more than just a buzzword for Swiss Youth Hostels. It is actually a key element of the company’s business policy, as can be seen in the 2011 Annual Report. Thanks to the systematic implementation of our sustainability strategy, we were able to slightly increase our turnover in spite of difficult economic conditions.

In 2011 Swiss Youth Hostels operated a total of 54 Youth Hostels in Switzerland, nine of them as franchisers. Due to the strength of the Swiss Franc and the mounting crisis in the Eurozone, the price-performance ratio for Swiss tourism has deteriorated substantially. However, Swiss Youth Hostels can look back on a satisfactory 2011 report year. Although we recorded a slight decrease of 1.1% in the number of overnight stays to 737,827, turnover rose by 1% to CHF 41.5 million. The adjusted result increased by almost CHF 200,000 to around CHF 610,000. Youth Hostels therefore compare very satisfactorily with other accommodation providers.

In addition to the basic social purpose and economic stability, Swiss Youth Hostels have also shown a great obligation towards the environment since their foundation. An extensive sustainability management system forms the basis that every independently managed Hostel will soon be able to satisfy the highest standards and will therefore be certified with the EU Ecolabel and the IBEX Fairstay Label. The EU Ecolabel is awarded to companies which reduce energy, water and waste consumption while IBEX certifies sustainable business operations in environmental management and in the areas of business administration, employees and regional value-added.

Due to climate warming, special emphasis is now placed on CO2 emissions along with pure resource consumption. By purchasing 100% hydroelectric power, CO2 emissions for electricity are reduced to almost zero. However, heat is the largest energy factor. Consumption is reduced continuously by improvements to building envelopes and heating systems. A large proportion of energy is consumed for hot water. The reduction in average water consumption to 125 litres for each overnight stay is, according to the Annual Report, “an excellent figure” when compared with benchmarks in the hotel industry. Specific CO2 emissions have been reduced by 37.6% since the year 2000.

Since holidays inevitably mean mobility, travel is a prime environmental factor for every tourist company. Even though Youth Hostels promote travel by public transport, this is still not sufficient. In the year under review we therefore started to formulate a mobility concept. Some initial measures will start to bear fruit in the current year.

The efforts by Swiss Youth Hostels to be perceived as a role model for sustainable action and management outside the tourist industry was honoured last year. The non-profit-making organisation was presented with the Zurich Cantonal Bank’s Sustainability Prize for small and medium-sized enterprises while it also won the Swiss Solar Prize for its “comprehensive environmental management in construction and operation“ in the category Personalities/Institutions. According to Fredi Gmür, CEO of Swiss Youth Hostels, the two honours represent an “obligation to continue increasing our efforts towards integrated thinking and action“. This can also be seen in the fact that 25 Youth Hostels in Switzerland are fully or partially accessible to wheelchair users, and that this service is also being continually extended for disabled persons.

The highlights in 2012 include the opening of the new Interlaken Youth Hostel with the new 3a restaurant concept at the start of May, the start of the conversion work in Pontresina and project development for Saanen, Saas-Fee and Figino.

Further information

Information for media

  • Swiss Youth Hostels
    Fredi Gmür, CEO of Swiss Youth Hostels
    Phone: 044 360 14 31
    e-mail: f.gmuer@youthhostel.ch