Mass tourism started in the 19th century with the development of railways. Today,
tourism is the largest industry in many countries, but railways have lost their dominant
position in the face of growth of motor and air transport. A complete reversal
may be difficult, but railways should make some concentrated efforts to establish a
bridgehead, because tourism is a rare economic area that is expected to grow further.
Switzerland provides many good examples. Swiss trains are clean, comfortable and
punctual, if not the fastest by today's standards. Good connections are assured at
junctions between main and branch lines, and between trains and other modes of
public transport. Switzerland's two major airports at Zurich and Geneva are served
not only by short-distance suburban trains, but also by frequent long-distance intercity
expresses. Various discount round-trip ticket covering both federal and private
rail networks are offered to tourists. Moreover, there is a solid national consensus to
promote rail travel throughout the whole country.
Although hiring a car at an airport is a convenient and popular way of travelling
today, driving in an unfamiliar country is often exhausting and dangerous. If adequate
rail services with reasonably-priced tickets were available, many tourists would switch
from road to rail.