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Second homes in the Alpine Region

On the interplay between leisure, tourism, outmigration and second homes in the Alps
Roger Sonderegger et Werner Bätzing
Traduction(s) :
Zweitwohnungen im Alpenraum


Second homes have grown quickly in numbers in the last decades and played an important role in the development of many municipalities in the Alpine Region. With an estimated number of 1’850’000, second homes account for more than 25% of the housing stock in the Alps, outnumbering by far the beds in the traditional accommodation sector. The highest numbers of second homes are located in the French and the Italian Alps, whereas the Eastern Alps only show small numbers – mainly due to regulatory differences. Apart from new buildings in amenity rich tourism resorts, outmigration has played a key role in creating homes used for leisure and tourism. In this sense, second homes can be interpreted as an indicator for an ongoing conversion process of the Alpine Region towards a space for leisure and tourism. Multilocal lifestyles can be considered a major opportunity for the Alps if new inhabitants are willing to take responsibility for both regions and their development.

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1Second homes have held a central place in the development of many rural regions in Europe, especially on the coasts and in mountain regions (Gallent & Tewdwr-Jones, 2000). The contribution of second home construction to the regional development is mostly identified to be of an economic nature: it creates added value and jobs in a region. The problems found in connections to second homes range from urban sprawl, loss of valuable landscapes and village appearance, water shortages, traffic congestion, all the way to the exclusion of local people from the housing market. In addition, the burden on public finances and the hidden loss of control by the region are often at the centre of criticism Alpine tourist destinations (Stettler & Danielli, 2008, Braumann, 2010). The perception of second homes as “cold beds” that cause a lack of regional value creation makes obvious that they are often understood in a touristic context, especially in the German-speaking countries.

2However, tourism is a phenomenon with a high spatial concentration in the Alps – only about 10% of the municipalities depend on tourism (Bätzing, 2005). What role have second homes played in the rest of the Alps? And what about tourist resorts; are second homes really an issue of major importance? Indeed, the Alpine region seems to be a promising area for research on second homes for various reasons. First, it consists mostly of rural space within easy reach of European urban centres, and it comprises the second most important tourism region when measured in terms of overnight stays (Bartaletti, 2011). Second, the Alps include countries that are marked by large differences in spatial planning provisions and regional mind-sets which seem interesting for analysing differences. Third, since they are a very sensitive region, environmental problems are more readily and strongly apparent in the Alps (Sonderegger, 2014).

3Rather than analysing advantages and disadvantages of regional second home construction, a comprehensive overview on today’s situation of the second homes in the Alpine region is in the focus of this paper. In spite of the relevance of second homes for leisure and tourism in the Alps, there have been no attempts to measure the overall size of the phenomenon so far. In contrast to commercial lodgement, it is unknown how many second homes there are in the Alps, how their development has taken place and what their interplay with tourism, leisure, and regional development has been. Therefore, the main goal of this contribution is to close this gap by analysing the relevance of second homes for tourism, leisure and regional development in the Alps, and vice versa.

4There is no generally accepted definition for the term second home, and “most authors apply a pragmatic approach where data access determines the definition” (Müller, 2004). For this text, second homes are defined as houses or flats that are not empty and not in permanent use by either somebody registered in the same municipality or for work or education according to Gallent et al. (2005) and Sonderegger (2014). Second homes are therefore (partly) occupied dwellings, and work and education are excluded because they are irrelevant for the following analyses. In contrast, empty flats are not inhabited by anyone, not even temporarily. The distinction between first and second home is considered inappropriate by several authors (Perrot & La Soudière 2003, Duchêne-Lacroix et al., 2013, Müller & Marjavaara, 2012) due to the implied hierarchy that often falls short of the real use by the owners. However, the term second home is used in this text because it is widely used in literature and generally accepted in this context.

State of research

5The discussion of the consequences of second home construction referred to in chapter 1 has a long tradition in Anglo-Saxon (Coppock, 1977; Gallent & Tewdwr-Jones, 2000; Hall & Müller, 2004; McIntyre et al., 2006), Scandinavian (Müller, 2004) and German speaking countries (Krippendorf, 1975; Anrig, 1985). Today, it is widely acknowledged that the construction of second homes in rural regions both leads to big advantages and severe disadvantages, whereby Coppock’s key question (“second homes: curse or blessing?”) will certainly remain a rhetorical one.

6In the Alpine context, second homes serve an important function in that they accommodate guests and help to fill the capacity of tourism facilities. Countless cable cars, local shops and caterers would not be able to exist without the business from guests staying in second homes (Hall 2002). And the economic benefit goes far beyond tourism. In the case of the Canton of Valais (2007), it is estimated that the regional economic effect from second homes generates 50% of all investments in building and maintenance, 40% of all visitor spending, and 10% of all investments in new construction. On the whole, the direct contribution by second homes to the tourism sector is considered to be modest; however, the overall economic benefit for the region is estimated to be large (Gallent et al., 2005; Hall, 2002; Canton of Valais, 2007).

7In tourism municipalities, the growth of second homes poses a problem when the real estate market begins to separate from the main tourism economy and gains momentum on its own, a situation that has occurred in many places in Switzerland (Plaz, 2006). When buoyant on account of contracts for second homes, the building sector itself generates new contracts and in many places starts to become the driving force in real estate development. New contracts lead to further growth in the building sector, which in turn attracts new orders, thus triggering cycles of growth that generate short-term benefits for municipalities in the form of levies and fees and long-term benefits from property tax revenues. The result is a self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating regional economic cycle that functions on a logic entirely disconnected from tourism (Sonderegger, 2014).

8A strong focus of recent research in the Alps is on migration processes, which “are related to the population’s new lifestyles and housing needs, to the construction of second homes and to international tourism” (Messerli et al., 2011). A major strand of research is based on the concept of amenity (led) migration, which conceptualises the process of people moving to amenity rich areas, i.e. mostly rural areas. Empirical findings support this concept for the Rocky Mountains, Scandinavia and the Alps (Moss, 2006; Perlik, 2006; Bender & Kanitscheider, 2012; Steinicke et al., 2012; Machiavelli, 2011). Bender & Kanitscheider (2012) identify amenity migration as a major process in population development in the Alps, and Steinicke et al. (2012) argue that amenity migration may play an important role in the development in the eastern Italian Alps, even leading to a revitalisation of so called “Ghost towns”, i.e. towns without any inhabitants. Perlik (2006), in contrast, focuses on peri-urban areas at the border of the Alps and identifies an “Alpine Type” of amenity migration. With the Alpine Type, Perlik refers to a setting in which people (definitely) move to the Alps and commute to close-by major towns.

9In contrast to the concept of migration (which implies a permanent change of home), multilocal living refers to a household with various homes. These homes may be used alternately in a stable or in a dynamic way; making the hierarchy between a first and a second home become obsolete (Hilti, 2011; Duchêne-Lacroix et al., 2013). Interestingly, multilocal living has been discussed less in Alpine research, although it offers a more flexible frame for analysis than the restricted concept of migration. Multilocality studies have long focused on urban settings, with research in progress making first connections to the Alps for the case of Switzerland (Duchêne-Lacroix et al., 2013). Clearly, the multilocality approach is still promising for further work in the rural Alpine Region.

10The potential mobility patterns between the Alps and their surroundings even go far beyond multilocal living and amenity migration (see Bender & Kanitscheider (2012) for a comprehensive overview on mobility types in the Alps). In the qualitative or regional approaches chosen in most recent publications (Steinicke et al., 2011; Machiavelli, 2012; Bartaletti, 2011), the context of the whole of the Alps is often missing. So far, there are no empirical studies on the size of the second home phenomenon across the Alpine Region, i.e. a quantitative overview of the second home situation is missing. As a framework for reference, it seems to be worth a piece of work to shed light on this question. Therefore, the research question for this paper is as follows.

11What is the quantitative significance of second homes for tourism and leisure in the Alpine Region and vice versa?

Research methods and data quality

12To gain an overview on the second home phenomenon in the Alpine Region, two steps must be made. First, data from housing statistics need to be collected and assembled, including the relation of second homes to all homes, to residents and to surface (cf. Table 1 below). A map displaying second homes on a community level then provides the basis for this analysis, both on a large and on a small scale. In a second step, a more detailed spatial analysis is carried out in order to gain a better understanding of the great differences in topography, culture and regulation across the Alps. For this second step, a comparison to a map of population development (Bätzing & Dickhörner, 2001) will be realised and interpreted based on five expert interviews and a literature review.

13Most of the Alpine countries provide insufficient data on the non-hotel accommodation sector, in particular on second homes. For this reason, the figures from housing statistics obtained during the national censuses around 2000 are used for gaining a comprehensive overview of the situation in the Alps. The second homes are filtered out on a community level for the whole Alpine arc and transported into an own database. This is possible for all countries except Germany. Since no census has been conducted here, data on second homes is obtained directly from the relevant municipalities. In all of the countries, the national census data distinguishes between occupied, vacant and partially occupied units. For the analysis, partially occupied units are classified as second homes.

14This results in two problems as regards data quality: Firstly, it is impossible to ascertain whether or not the partially occupied apartments are in fact second homes for tourism and leisure purposes (as in the definition above) rather than apartments used by seasonal service staff, for example. This means, the data provided here tends to overestimate the actual stock of second homes. Secondly, data quality of a national census is generally questionable in this respect because it is provided by the subjects themselves and therefore hard to verify. Depending on the conditions of a particular country, owners even may consider it advantageous to falsify the information they provide.

Second homes in the Alpine Region: a phenomenon of major significance

15The analyses for the year 2000 indicate that there were 1.98 million second homes in the Alpine region, making up 26% of the total number of all dwelling units. Based on the past development and on the opinions of international experts, the data was updated so as to produce an estimate for 2012. The resulting figure comes to 1,850,000 second homes. This is significantly higher than the findings of comparable studies (Bätzing, 2005; BAK Basel, 2011).

Table 1. Numbers and shares of second homes (SH) in the Alpine region in 2000 and 2012

SH 2000

SH share



SH 2012

















































Alpine region






  • 1 France: According to analyses of the regional branch of the national institute for statistics, the (...)

Source: Own research, based on data from national censuses; the last column contains own estimates for 20121.

  • 2 In France and Slovenia, leisure is shown as a purpose for holding a second home. As to be expected, (...)
  • 3 For the average number of beds in second and holiday residences, there is no scientific research da (...)

16The total number of 1,850,000 second homes represents more than 25% of the total building stock across the Alpine arc. Since most of these homes are used for tourism and leisure purposes2, the importance of second homes for leisure and tourism is certainly considerable. Compared to the approx. 1.2 million beds in the formal accommodation (hotel) sector (BAK Basel, 2011), the approx. 8 million3 beds of the second home sector are of primary quantitative significance for tourism and leisure in the Alpine region.

17Major differences exist among the Alpine countries as regards both the number and the concentration of second homes. France and Italy have by far the largest number (cf. Table 1), which is not surprising in view of their large shares of inhabitants and available living space within the Alpine region as a whole. Both of these countries, however, also have the largest second home shares of the total number of units and the highest densities of second homes (per inhabitant and per square kilometre), making them the main second home countries in the Alps. Switzerland is – as in many aspects in the Alps – situated right in the average of Alpine second home share of 26%.

18Two main processes seem to be relevant for the large differences between the Alpine countries: first, an intensive construction of second homes for leisure and tourism purposes and second, the outmigration of the local population, converting their former houses into dwellings for leisure and tourism purposes. These two driving processes will be discussed in detail in chapter 6.

Great differences between five tourism markets

19The differences between the Alpine states shown in Table 1 are now analysed in more detail. Institutional frameworks play a central role in this development. These include regulations in the real estate market, availability of attractive land for building and investment capital, protection of private investments, government incentives for the accommodation market, regional policies, as well as the holiday-making tradition (Sonderegger, 2014). The high importance of these regulations leads to the fact that one country seems to be one more or less homogeneous second home market. However, there are two major exceptions: Bavaria and South Tyrol. Together with Western Austria, they form a more or less homogeneous region with similar institutional and cultural frameworks, and with similar numbers, shares and concentrations of second homes.

20A first approach for a spatial analysis follows an analysis of spatial patterns in tourism in the Alps. Contributions to this issue are rather scarce; the most comprehensive spatial analysis was published by Bätzing (2005), who distinguishes between five major tourism markets in the Alps. They take into account the heterogeneity of the states, but also the homogeneity just described for Bavaria, Western Austria and South Tyrol.

  • In France, purpose-built centres dominate on account of the vast number and a high concentration of units. These centres are the result of a national tourism policy in the form of second home construction for holiday use after World War II. Simultaneously, the southern French Alps have experienced a large out-migration (Perlik, 2006). In combination, the French Alps account for more than a fourth of all second homes in the Alps.

  • Italy (excluding South Tyrol): Besides the approximately 15 integrated purpose-built centres, the Italian Alps have undergone intense second home construction in existing settlements. In addition, large swaths of the Italian Alps are experiencing strong migration away from rural regions, giving rise to an enormous number of second homes in peripheral areas, often ranging above 80% of the total number of homes in a municipality. Informal processes and money laundering play a key role in real estate projects in the Italian Alps (Bätzing, 2005).

    • 4 Condominium ownership was introduced at federal level in 1965 and enables buyers to acquire an apar (...)

    Switzerland: The Swiss model is based on leisure home construction, mostly in existing settlements in amenity rich areas (ARE, 2013). Most second homes are privately owned by people from the urban regions in Switzerland. The Swiss model is based on condominium ownership4, an outstanding transport infrastructure, a tax system that favours real estate ownership, and a strong policy of territorial coherence. Very high shares of second homes (above 90%) are found in the southern Swiss Alps due to out-migration. Since 2012, there is a ban on second home construction in municipalities with a share of second homes of more than 20%.

  • Germany, Austria, and South Tyrol: In these regions, tourism has developed in a decentralised and scattered manner that favours the hospitality sector (Bätzing, 2005). Shares of second homes exceeding 20% are rare. Strong government regulations of the real estate market, promotion of construction by local people of private room rentals and apartments, and restrictive zoning policies have all contributed to these relatively small shares of second homes in the municipalities.

  • Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Monaco: Only a few relicts of the old spa tourism survived during the period of socialist government in Slovenia until 1991, combined with around 5’000 second homes (Sonderegger, 2014), constructed mainly for a national demand (Gosar, 1989; Perlik, 2006). After 1991, the tourism regions underwent a dynamic phase of second home construction, but the overall number only totalled around 30’000 in 2002. However, this growth was with great difference the strongest in the Alps. The small states of Monaco and Liechtenstein have only 7,000 second homes combined.

Illustration 1. Shares of second homes at municipal level

Illustration 1. Shares of second homes at municipal level

Source: National census figures (approx. 2000; Germany: direct information from relevant municipalities), calculations by the authors

21Large differences can be found regarding the spatial concentration of second homes. The map above shows the share of second homes at the community level. Two things become apparent here. First, there is a declining significance of second homes when moving from West to East. This corresponds directly to the observations on the regional level made above. While a second home share above 80% is quite common in the French and Western Italian Alps, the region spanning Austria, Bavaria and South Tyrol has hardly any municipalities with more than 20% second homes.

22Second, there is a high concentration of second homes in relatively few municipalities. Almost half of all second homes are located in approximately 300 of the total of over 6,000 municipalities. Second homes are therefore not a ubiquitous phenomenon but one restricted to certain areas in the Alps, especially to those along the main chain of the Alps. Speaking in terms of total numbers, the municipalities with the highest stock (not share) of second homes are either Alpine cities (San Remo, Salzburg, Grenoble, and Innsbruck) or those with purpose-built centres (St.Martin de Belleville).

  • 5 In the French Alps, Bätzing and Dickhörner identified large areas of repopulation as of 1971 (Bätzi (...)

23Both the declination from West to East and the concentration of the second homes in relatively few municipalities correspond with Bätzing’s (2005) findings on spatial patterns of tourism in the Alps. The out-migration basically follows both of these schemes (Bätzing, 2005), although with major exceptions in the French Alps5 (Perlik, 2006).

24Interestingly, a major concentration of second homes in proximity to the major cities outside the Alps cannot be identified. It is often argued that this proximity dominates the spatial distribution (Machiavelli, 2012; Perlik, 2006), and this argument is backed by a whole strand of (mainly Northern American) research on the spatial distribution of second homes – one of the first research subjects in the area (Bielckus et al., 1972; Shellito, 2006). However, the data for the Alps does not support these findings. Nevertheless, further research in this area, based on absolute numbers of second homes instead of shares and on case studies, might demonstrate whether this observation is rather due to the special situation of the Alps (short distances, specific topography etc.) or rather due to the larger numbers of inhabited dwellings in proximity of the major cities.

Two driving processes and three types of second homes in the Alps

25As the Alpine states’ census data from the past show, the Alps have faced a significant and stable growth in second home stock in the last decades. Two main processes were found to account for this. Together, they explain both the massive growth and the huge stocks of second homes in the Alps today. First, the demand for leisure and holiday properties in the Alps has been high for decades. Especially in France, Italy (without South Tyrol) and Switzerland, purpose built real estate developments for leisure and holiday are of crucial importance for the tourism industry.

26This demand originates mainly from European countries and was backed by six main drivers (Arnesen, 2009 in Sonderegger, 2014), i.e. growth of population (especially growth of number of households), of wealth, of flexibility at work, of individual mobility, of available and reliable road infrastructures, and of the conurbations. According to the nature of this demand, it was mostly met in attractive tourism destinations across the Alps. In consequence, these regions faced or still face the construction of second homes as part of their development. In attractive regions, second home construction has even become one of the major elements of the economic development.

27Second, a continuous out-migration from large parts of the Alps (Bätzing & Dickhörner, 2001) led to the conversion of former family homes to second homes for leisure and holiday. In spite of a general growth in population in the Alps since 1870, wide areas of the Italian Alps, of the Southern French Alps and the eastern part of the Eastern Alps lost population. Switzerland shows a mixture of growth and decline (the latter taking place especially in the Southern parts of the Swiss Alps) (Perlik, 2006). This process must be understood in the context of a fundamental economic shift from (rural) agriculture towards an (urban) service economy (Bätzing, 2005).

28Except for attractive tourism destination, regions of out-migration do usually not show a high demand for real estate (Gallent et al., 2005) which supports the retention of family properties. As a direct consequence, much of the remaining housing stock is reused only for holiday and leisure purposes. Many second homes are therefore not new buildings but conversions of existing ones, especially in peripheral regions. As purpose-built family homes, they are mainly used for leisure and/or holiday purposes after outmigration. This second process of second home origination must not be underestimated for an appropriate interpretation of today’s second home distribution across the Alps.

29Based on these two processes, a further distinction can be made. The use of holiday homes for leisure or for holiday purposes are of distinct nature in creation, in property and generally also in use. In consequence, three functional types of second homes can be identified in the Alps: Leisure homes (mostly purpose-built and for leisure), Holiday homes (mostly purpose-built and for commercial tourism) and Family properties (created by out-migration and mostly used for leisure purposes).

301. Leisure homes: Due to their location in small distance to major agglomerations, the Alps are an attractive place for leisure homes. In distinction to holiday homes, they are either rented or owned by their users, and often used but for shorter times – e.g. on weekends. Many leisure homes are built for this purpose; some are converted former first homes or agricultural buildings. This type of second home is very popular in many places inside and outside the Alps such as North America, Great Britain, and Scandinavia, e.g. (Hall & Müller, 2004; Mc Intyre et al., 2006; Roca, 2013). It is usually referred to in discussions on second homes. Leisure homes are a part of their owners’ everyday lives and therefore do not count towards tourism by most definitions (e.g. Kaspar, 1996). They might rather be conceived as part of a setting of multilocal living.

312. Holiday homes: Holiday homes are built for commercial purposes and usually rented for short periods to visitors of the area. Two main subtypes may be distinguished. In the first subtype, the properties are developed by an investment company, mostly from outside the Alps. These developments are usually large and owned and managed by professional agencies. They can be found mainly in the French and the Italian Alps, on a minor scale also in the Swiss Alps. In the second subtype, holiday homes are usually included in their owners’ houses and run by the owners themselves. These second homes are developed on a small scale and mainly located in Austria, Bavaria and South Tyrol.

323. Family properties: Due to their use for leisure purposes, the distinction to type 1 is not clear cut. The distinction depends on the property’s biography, i.e. family properties are not built for leisure or tourism purposes, but converted.

33Second homes (especially the ones of the types 1 and 3) are capable of playing a key role in connecting the Alps with their surroundings. Their owners for the most part maintain close relations with the town of their secondary or former family home, even if they use them only occasionally. This helps to form social and economic relationships, which may remain stable for decades. However, second homes are not distributed ubiquitously across the Alps. Differences exist in regard to the history of tourism, policy frameworks, the culture of spending holidays, and natural and cultural amenities (Perlik, 2006).

Conclusion and need for further research

34With more than eight million beds and a share of more than 25%, second homes play an important role in tourism and leisure spent in the Alps. Second homes are a rather young phenomenon that has faced a very dynamic growth in all Alpine countries in the last decades. Two parallel processes were identified to be relevant for this growth: first the steady construction of new homes for leisure and tourism purposes and second the outmigration from the Alps mainly due to structural economic change. In both processes, institutional frameworks have played a key role and caused major differences in today’s stock of second homes across the five tourism markets portrayed.

35Are the Alps therefore converted into a postproductive landscape for leisure and tourism, as Gallent et al. (2005) suggested for other European regions? Indeed, the development of second homes stocks reflects major processes taking place in the Alpine region on a large scale, i.e. the growing importance of tourism and leisure, the declining importance of agricultural production and the outmigration from the Alps. All these processes are closely linked to each other and to the structural change in the Alpine economy. However, almost half of all second homes are concentrated in only around 300 municipalities, which exclude the major part of the Alps. It might therefore be sensible to speak of a conversion for certain areas, but certainly not for the whole Alpine region.

36For the future, growth in population and wealth is likely to continue in the urban centres near the Alpine regions, and real estate will remain an important asset class in Europe. In consequence, the stock of second homes for leisure and tourism will remain under strong pressure to grow further in many Alpine regions. When considering the problems arising from large numbers and high concentrations of second homes, government intervention in the second home market must continue to play a significant role in future.

37For future research, a switch from a planning and problem oriented approach to a social science approach is certainly needed and could shed light on many issues that have remained opaque so far. Little is known about the everyday practices of second homeowners, e.g. about the living and mobility patterns of individuals with multilocal lifestyles. In what rhythms and for what purposes do they use their first and second homes? What are their activities in the holiday / leisure region? And how is the social involvement of second homeowners there? Concepts of place making or place attachment might be fruitfully applied in this context.

38Do new forms of social connections between the Alps and their surroundings arise that go beyond leisure and tourism? Does amenity migration really present a new perspective for the Alps, stopping or even inversing the long-standing outmigration on an Alpine scale? The benefits to be gained from this new approach seem to be all the more worthwhile if amenity migration and multilocal living are perceived as potential major chances for the future of the Alps.

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1 France: According to analyses of the regional branch of the national institute for statistics, the growth between 1990 and 1999 in the Alpine regions was 6.9% (Rhône-Alpes), and 14.1% (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) (INSEE 2001). However, the maximum growth period in second home construction in the French winter sport resorts must be viewed as finished (Interview Rougier), and many second homes in the periurban areas are even converted into first homes (INSEE, 2001). For these reasons, a growth of around 8% seemed to be realistic for a time span of 13 years, resulting in total number of 520’000 second homes. // Italy: The estimation of the second home stock in Italy is not based on the author’s own calculation for 2000 due to the lack of quality described in the text. Instead, Bartaletti’s calculations for 2000 were taken (Bartaletti 2011). // Switzerland: The estimation for Switzerland was calculated using an annual growth of 1%, based on the trend in the past and a stable institutional framework. Calculations by the federal administration support this estimation (ARE 2013). // Germany: Due to a lack of quality, a suspected overestimation of the actual stock in the data and lacking significance for growth, the estimation was reduced to rounding the stock from 2000. // Austria: a strong legislation and a high demand for second homes presented serious challenges for an accurate estimation in Austria. An annual growth of around 1% in the stock follows a trend observed in the past (ÖROK 2003) but might be a slight exaggeration. // Slovenia: Due to the very small number constructed until 1991 (Gosar, 1989), the massive growth observed between 1990 and 2000 (Statisticni Urad Republike Slovenije, online) and the high potential identified, the estimations for Slovenia were based on the highest growth rates of all Alpine countries (3% annually). // Liechtenstein, Monaco: due to their small dimension, the estimation was reduced to rounding the existing numbers.

2 In France and Slovenia, leisure is shown as a purpose for holding a second home. As to be expected, second homes in the Alps are mainly used for leisure purposes in both countries. In the Swiss Alps (Sonderegger, 2014) and in the Italian Alps (Bartaletti, 2011), the situation is comparable. These explanations follow in more detail in Chapter 6.

3 For the average number of beds in second and holiday residences, there is no scientific research data available. Most estimates range from 4 to 5 beds per second home. The approximated figure of 4.5 beds per residence is derived from the average of these estimates.

4 Condominium ownership was introduced at federal level in 1965 and enables buyers to acquire an apartment within a multi-family complex, including the corresponding share of the land. The subsequent strong legal certainty applies only to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein and forms an important basis for investments in multi-family units.

5 In the French Alps, Bätzing and Dickhörner identified large areas of repopulation as of 1971 (Bätzing, 2005).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Illustration 1. Shares of second homes at municipal level
Crédits Source: National census figures (approx. 2000; Germany: direct information from relevant municipalities), calculations by the authors
Fichier image/jpeg, 601k
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Roger Sonderegger et Werner Bätzing, « Second homes in the Alpine Region  », Journal of Alpine Research | Revue de géographie alpine [En ligne], Hors-Série | 2013, mis en ligne le 20 octobre 2014, consulté le 31 mars 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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Roger Sonderegger

Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Werner Bätzing

University of Erlangen-Nürnberg

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