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Swiss Youth Hostels

Schaffhauserstrasse 14
P.O. Box
8042 Zurich
Phone: +41 44 360 14 14 / Fax: +41 44 360 14 60

Contact per e-mail:

General inquiries / member department:

Booking center for youth hostels wordwide:


Head office buisness hours:

Monday - Friday: 08:00 - 17:00hrs

Directory enquiries:

Monday - Friday: 08:00 - 18:00hrs

Swiss Youth Hostels

Sustainability strategy

The Swiss Youth Hostels are committed to sustainability. We believe that sustainability means taking into account not only social and ethical issues, but also the sensible use of resources.

Through our sustainability strategy, we aim to be a role model for the Swiss tourism sector and to motivate others to adopt this course. The Swiss Youth Hostels operate 46 hostels all over Switzerland and together with its 7 franchise hostels achieve about 925,000 overnight stays per year.

Economic sustainability

The Swiss Youth Hostels perform a balancing act between achieving their social goals as a non-profit organisation and the profitability they need in order to survive. Demand remains the most important yardstick. In recent years, the number of overnight stays has been increased to almost a million despite a simultaneous reduction in the number of hostels and somewhat difficult economic conditions. The annual turnover is now running at over CHF 43 million, the cash flow at almost CHF 9 million. The number of members provides further confirmation of the steadily growing demand. In 2009, it topped the 100,000 mark for the first time. Healthy profitability is crucial for continuous renewal of the network. At the present time, this enables some CHF 10 to 15 million to be invested in refurbishment and new building every year.

Ecological sustainability

The Swiss Youth Hostels operate with a comprehensive environmental management programme that takes the ecology of the buildings as much as the organisation into consideration. The highest standards and the best labels serve as yardsticks, selected partners as indicators. In the near future, all youth hostels will be certified with the EU-Ecolabel and the ibex fairstay label. The Basel and Scuol Youth Hostel were awarded Platinum and the highest possible number of points of all accommodation establishments in Switzerland. Four Youth Hostels have already been constructed according to the Minergie Standard. Interlaken Youth Hostel, which opened in spring 2012, is the world’s first Youth Hostel to attain the Minergie-P Standard. The specific CO2 emission for space heating has been reduced by 41.3 per cent compared to 2000. This means that the target agreed with the Energy Agency for the Economy (EnAW) of 10.2 per cent for 2012 has been exceeded by a wide margin. A nationwide programme to fit the youth hostels with water-saving valves has enabled water consumption to be reduced to just 129 litres per overnight stay. This represents a reduction of 23 per cent compared to 1996 and was achieved despite higher standards in the wet cells. Essential energy consumption is to be met by renewable sources wherever possible. For example, all electricity is obtained CO2-neutrally from Swiss hydroelectric generation, while two youth hostels produce their own photovoltaic power. Three youth hostels are now heated by wood-fired systems, another by means of a heat pump, 14 youth hostels produce hot water by means of solar collectors. 55 per cent of guests also make use of the voluntary CO2-offset – equivalent to some 3,100 tons of CO2.

Social sustainability

The aim and purpose of youth hostels is social tourism, inexpensive accommodation for anyone on a modest budget. Prices are set in such a way that services remain affordable whilst nevertheless guaranteeing good quality and fair wages. Swiss Youth Hostels are also in the process of implementing the “Obstacle-free youth hostels” concept. Obstacle-free products and services are an important concern for the organisation in order to enable everybody to stay at a youth hostel. The Swiss Youth Hostels currently employ around 530 persons sharing around 285 full-time jobs. The low staff turnover – around 9.5 per cent – reflects the positive results of the annual job satisfaction surveys among the employees. Over 95 per cent rate their personal satisfaction as very good, good or neutral. An internal training programme offers development opportunities for all employees. Each year, around 500 course participants take advantage of this offer. An external social counselling office is open to all employees free of charge. And finally, a comparatively very healthy pension fund conveys a sense of security for the future. All employees, honorary board members and delegates receive accommodation vouchers every year entitling them and their family members to free use of the youth hostels. However, the Swiss Youth Hostels shoulder their social responsibility not only towards their guests and employees. Concern for regional and cultural aspects is accorded equal importance. Procurement of fresh regional produce and Max-Havelaar products is as much a matter of course as the upkeep of the historic buildings.