A Battle Fought and Won for the Aerial Cableway – and for Tourism in the Region

A Battle Fought and Won for the Aerial Cableway – and for Tourism in the Region

Imagine: a highly exclusive club and Solothurn’s landmark mountain right in the middle. The watson online portal recently announced the 13 best lookout points in the country under the title “Where Switzerland is even more beautiful than it already is”. In addition to classics such as Muottas Muragl in Engadine and the panorama trail on the Aletsch Glacier in Valais, the Weissenstein also made it on to the list. The article’s author raves about the view, which spans the entire length of the Alps when looking south, from Säntis to Mont Blanc, on clear days. As the watson author so rightly puts it, the Weissenstein, at just on 4265 feet above sea level, is always worth another visit.

You can scale the Weissenstein in many different ways. If you choose a bike, the steep climbs will have your heart pumping and your pulse racing. Hiking the Jura ridgeway, on the other hand, is a slightly more comfortable option. However, you can also ascend the Weissenstein without any effort whatsoever, since a new aerial cableway has been in operation since December 20. More than 100,000 visitors tried out the new cable cars in the first 100 days after the grand opening. The cableway operators were literally swarmed on January 1, when they welcomed 4000 visitors in three hours and the lines of visitors just never seemed to end. This is good news not only for the operators but also for the entire business and tourism region.

The rush of visitors proved the popularity of Solothurn’s landmark mountain, even though the former aerial railway had been out of commission for years before the reopening. The old, side-ways running chairlift took its last ride in 2009. Then, a legal battle that lasted years was started between supporters and opponents of the new project – and the plans for the Weissenstein cableway were put on hold. In 2013, however, the light at the end of the tunnel appeared and construction finally started. Thanks to the financial support from the national and cantonal government as part of the “New Regional Policy”, the first cable car was able to make its way up to the popular lookout platform soon afterwards. Just a few months later, the Kurhaus Weissenstein, which is very visible from the A1 highway thanks to its three bright lights, celebrated its re-inauguration. The mountain is now right back in business once again. Today, Konrad Stuber, head of the Weissenstein Cableway, says that it was worth fighting for the aerial cableway.

The signs for continued positive growth around Solothurn’s landmark mountain look very promising. The aerial cableway, the mountain hotels, the new owner of the Kurhaus, and Region Solothurn Tourism have organized themselves as a new association now known as “Solothurn Jura Tourism.” In the future, they want to speak with one voice and work together to coordinate their different interests. However, development in the canton of Solothurn is not only taking place at 4265 feet above sea level. If you are up on the Weissenstein and don’t spend all of your time looking into the far-off distance but also turn your gaze down toward the region of Solothurn, you will see the large companies of the precision and medtech industries. The renowned US pharmaceutical company Biogen, whose resettlement is a hot topic at the moment, is building a giant production plant that is clearly visible from Solothurn’s landmark mountain. On the Weissenstein, you can relax to your heart’s content and watch the booming economic growth of the region while you are at it.

Photocredit: Region Solothurn Tourismus 


About the author

Karl Brander was joining Solothurn Economic Development Agency SEDA eight years ago. Before this, he got his PhD degree in Molecular Biology, Immunology and Allergology followed by several years of product and business development positions in Swiss companies and a position as director of sales of a US company. Karl Brander is executive director of the international and national investment program at SEDA, attracting and securing investment projects to the Canton of Solothurn.

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