Sustainable tourism: Outopia, the new platform that reconnects the Swiss with nature
Since childhood, Félix Véricel has evolved in the world of adventure travel. Tintin quickly gave way to the novels of Jack London, to the exploration stories of Nicolas Bouvier, to the travel diaries of great reporters, pioneers, intrepid mountaineers. A demanding traveler, he travels along cross roads all over the world, to escape the monotony of his Geneva offices. To reconnect with himself, get out of his comfort zone, he explores different avenues of reflection. The founder of Outopia is a strong supporter of Scandinavian-style outdoor life, the friluftsliv which becomes his new philosophy. He tells us that the alchemist by Paolo Coelho changed his life. But it was when he discovered the Japanese concept of Ikigai that he gave up his status as a spectator. The morning of his first triathlon, his partner tells him that he is going to become a dad. 10 months later he put an end to his over-oiled career in international trading. His newfound professional freedom and the arrival of a first child accentuate his desire to reconnect with nature and to surpass himself. A project is obvious to him: Outopia was born.
Tell us about Outopia, what is the genesis of your project?
Mike Horn is a great inspiration to our generation. We (almost) all dream of living life-size experiences. But this need to escape is often hampered by the lack of time and the absence of a packaged offer in Switzerland. The demand exists, there is a real need for nature and recognition within a community. In a hyperconnected world, you can sometimes feel lonely when you want to organize a hike or outing in the mountains. Our new digital platform connects enthusiasts of large spaces around their homes. I have traveled a lot, it’s true, which only confirmed my love of Switzerland. I am convinced that our country has all the assets to create the tourism of tomorrow. Like the new Swisstainable label in which our approach is part.
It is in this perspective that Outopia aims to create outdoor micro-adventures in close collaboration with Swiss professionals. These short stays (from 1 to 7 nights) meet this need for extraordinary adventures. Recharge your batteries and escape from everyday life without going to the other side of the world. Day after day, we all see images of breathtaking landscapes scrolling on social networks, we dream of climbs on snow-capped peaks, lakes with crystal clear waters, immense forests to fill up with fresh air. Outopia nourishes this utopia by inviting everyone to leave their home, to leave the screens and to take action. We want to make nature more accessible.
How do you differentiate yourself?
Based in Geneva, Outopia is a new player in Swiss tourism. We believe that mountain tourism must be part of sustainability. Our trips are part of a process of happy sobriety. The idea is simple: travel less far and why not, more often. Switzerland is not just about winter sports, fondue and the Matterhorn.
Our micro-adventures are tailor-made by experienced professionals, without intermediaries. We select the wildest corners of nature for our community to design unique experiences that cannot be found anywhere else, destinations off the beaten track.
All our activities have in common that they are respectful of the environment, all departures are accessible by public transport and we do not offer any motorized activity. The emphasis is on reconnecting with the planet and raising awareness of current environmental issues.
We grew up with Airbnb and Uber. We believe that digitization is the key to the renewal to develop a new tourism offer in Switzerland. Outopia.co simplifies the customer experience as much as possible: efficient research, fair and transparent pricing, immediate online reservation and payment.
Who are your micro-adventures for?
The mountain represents one of the last wild spaces where the strength and beauty of nature can be experienced freely. Today, it is no longer just a destination for regulars, it attracts a new clientele in search of fresh air in the Swiss Alps and the Jura Arc. Our target is demanding in the face of a multitude of information, they want to book in a few clicks, sometimes at the last minute and without wasting time.
Behind this trend, there is also a public for whom going far has become commonplace or even guilty. A predominantly urban population residing in Zurich, Lausanne, Bern, Geneva and Basel. Soft mobility and short circuits are encouraged. We eat local and organic, we favor ethical and responsible fashion. We move up a gear by applying our eco-gestures when deciding to go on vacation. There is a real desire to give meaning to travel.
The next steps ?
Outopia is a start-up. Our first objective is to validate our concept and define our customer acquisition cost. This is why our offer is voluntarily restricted this summer. A community of enthusiasts is emerging. With her, the first strategic and financial partnerships will allow the development of the company on a larger scale from the following seasons.
Travel restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic further strengthen the attractiveness of local as the first choice of destination for travelers. While waiting for the return of international tourists and a possible phenomenon of “revenge travel”, we can count on the significant potential of the Swiss clientele since hiking is the most popular sport and leisure activity in the country. Spending time in the great outdoors is a very important motivation for nearly three quarters of Swiss people (There are already 3 million hikers among residents aged 15 to 74. They represent a turnover of 3 billion Swiss francs. )
As a reminder, in 2018, the global adventure tourism market generated $ 600 billion in revenue with an annual growth rate of 13%. In Switzerland, the two main outdoor activities, hiking and cycling, attracted 16 million foreign visitors in 2019 for a turnover of 6 billion francs. A figure multiplied by 8 in just 10 years …
To (re) visit Switzerland and become a player in sustainable tourism, visit Outopia.co.
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