Nature, Tranquility and Innovation: Berne’s Winning Recipe for Events

After two complicated years for the hospitality sector, Bern has resumed the rhythm of major events: several major conferences are scheduled there in 2022, and a series of important meetings are already scheduled for 2023. All in sectors as diverse as medicine (for, for example, meeting Swiss Pediatricians), Law (Annual Meeting of the Swiss Society of Criminal Law), Culture (Reportage Festival) or Sports (World Climbing Championships).

Thus the Federal City reconnects with an established dynamic. In 2019, every year it hosted a series of major events conferences such as the Swiss Formula E. Grand Prix. Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, or Watch City Society annual gala. This June, the Swiss Economic Forum – the main meeting of the Swiss economy, with leading figures from business, research, politics and the media – will be held again in Interlaken.

Bern: a leading city in “green events”

Bern has been developing an ambitious sustainability policy for years. She is a recipient of the European Energy Award – Gold Label, and has also been the recipient of the City Fair Trade Medal since 2017. A desire that has enabled her to develop a strong “Green Meetings & Events” strategy. Concretely, companies and departments agree to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, cycle paths will be doubled by 2030, waste will be reduced to a vital minimum … and in 2022, the city organizes its own sustainability days (from September 10 to 23). In short, proposing a climate-neutral event, or offsetting the carbon emissions associated with containing it, is child’s play here.

In fact, as an industry leader in Switzerland, the city of Bern has for years been committed to sustainable resource management. It now has nearly 400 companies (about 6000 employees) who are experts in energy and the environment. The new festival centre, the futuristic New Festhalle, is currently under construction in the Bernexpo area, due to open in 2024 and includes these aspects. It will be multifunctional: a room for live events, but also an aura and places for reception. Above all, it will run without the use of fossil fuels, and the entire site will be environmentally optimized and traffic reduced to a minimum.

The general public does not know him very much, but Bern is one of the foci of European climate research. In December 2019, the Wyss Academy of Nature was born. This specialist center at the University of Bern houses three leading institutes in the field of sustainability. It is the interdisciplinary center for sustainable development and the environment, the Institute of Plant Sciences (with its botanical garden) and the Ueschär Center for Climate Research. The latter is known worldwide for his analyzes of the climate system and its interactions with society. Objective: To develop these three representatives into a leading research center, specializing in the relationships and interactions between man and nature.

Interlaken and Biel are also working on the origins of sustainability

Interlaken and Biel are also verdant green cities. Through its dual influences – French-speaking and German – Bell developed an open, innovative and sometimes alternative culture, paving the way for the proliferation of sustainable initiatives from civil society. Alternative media, bistros or communal parks thrive here. Biel has unique expertise in the field of solar energy, which has earned it several European labels and awards. The roof of the Tissot Arena, a multifunctional stadium, is covered with a solar power plant that can supply the annual energy needs of 600 families (!). On Lake Biel operates the Mobicat, an innovative, silent solar-powered catamaran, which re-pumps its surplus energy into the Biel grid. At Bell, Paul Janneret and Rene Palmer, engineers, pioneers in solar mobility and winners of the 1990 World Solar Challenge, work.

Known as the “Energy City”, Interlaken is also famous as a destination for ecological and responsible relaxation. Soft Mobility is at the heart of its transportation strategy. You can get around on e-bike, solar-powered boat or Segway … and of course on foot: in Interlaken, everything is close by. You can walk from the station to the convention center or from your event to your hotel within a few minutes’ walk. Each hotel resident also receives a regional public transport card. The goal: to limit vehicular traffic as much as possible, including reaching the peaks, making the panorama such a popular aspect of the city.

Close to nature and ideal for team building

Getaways: This is another advantage of the canton, as its cities are all closely connected with the neighboring nature. What a nature! In Bienne, the lake that bears his name guarantees the scenery. In the meandering federal city of the emerald waters of Aare, and in Interlaken, it is impossible to escape from the sparkling peaks. The panorama of the Alps is breathtaking … and can be reached in no time, including from the city center of Bern!

But it is Interlaken that is known above all as the capital of European adventure. It must be said that the scenery, at the foot of the three monuments that are Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, is breathtaking and opens up an infinite field of possible excursions. Many ways to enrich your professional stay or conduct a brainstorming session with unforgettable free time. The town, in itself a fascinating place, is the starting point for many excursions on the legendary mountains such as the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe or the Schilthorn.

Or simply on the Harder Kulm (1300m), which can be reached within ten minutes by cable car from the city center! Perfect trips for “team building”. You can, of course, also choose to paraglide, cruises in Lake Thun and Brienz, river rafting or jet-boating tours in the summer, or skiing or curling in the winter. The choice is endless, facilitated by the great variety of not-so-distant landscapes: lake, rivers, mountains, streams, hills…

State-of-the-art infrastructure

Easily catered by road, plane and train, Bern caters to all event possibilities through its variety of venues. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city has everything from state-of-the-art facilities to secluded and thought-provoking hotels. It has an enormous variety of places to organize professional events – from historic vaulted cellars such as the Kornhauskeller, the Kursaal Bern and the ultra-modern Congress Centre, to the pearls of cultural architecture such as the Paul Klee Center and its green curves. All can be reached on foot or by public transport!

Spaces that constantly innovate and invest to meet the needs of the business community. Note, for example, the opening of a hotel dedicated to him a few minutes from the city center, at the end of 2022 digital nomads, Carried by the Austrian group Harry’s Home Hotels & Apartments. The idea is to feel at home, even during long business trips, and to be able to organize banquets and events.

In Bienne, it is the unique architecture of the Palais des Congrès that characterizes the urban landscape. Under the impressive suspended ceiling, culture, work and entertainment coexist in a surprising way, between multi-purpose rooms and a workshop. A multi-shaped and inspiring space, just like a city! Tissot Arena is more personalized for parties and experiences. This modern and multifunctional stadium hosts events small and large, professional, cultural, or sporting.

In Interlaken, the Kursal Interlaken congress center, which hosts the Swiss Economic Forum every year, is also particularly popular for its more exclusive conferences and events. Its Grand Siècle architecture, gorgeous garden and unparalleled view of the snow-clad Jungfrau make it feel timeless. But make no mistake: its huge area (5000 square meters) and bright rooms make it a very adaptive space. The sophisticated auditorium has been ideally designed for high-level meetings. Equipped with the latest technology for events, it regularly hosts on-site or mixed meetings, with a virtual dimension.

art of life

In the end, it is perhaps difficult to capture this typical Bernese way of life, which explains what the event organizers appreciate when coming to the canton of Bern. Admittedly, we find ourselves surrounded by breathtaking nature, at the heart of cutting-edge research and decision-making, at the crossroads of abundant cultural influences…but here, above all, “we take the time”, explains a contact from the region. “You may come from Bärndütsch, our local language, which is a little slower than other regional dialects… Here, making time to listen to others, but also taking care of balancing your private and professional life, is valuable.” Slowing down, listening to each other, stepping back from the situation: Isn’t that precisely the point of any meeting, be it professional or personal? Bern has this sense of convergence.


Contacts:

Bern Congress Bureau, tel: 031328 12 60, bern.com/en/business

Interlaken Conferences and Events, tel: 033827 62 00, interlaken-congress.ch/en

Tourism Bill Sealand, tel. 032329 84 86, biel-seeland.ch

Made in Bern, Tel. 033 300 33 05, madeinbern.com/fr/business

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