A tiny Swiss village threatened with extinction after an exodus of residents has come up with a novel way of turning around its fortunes.
Albinen, a picturesque village near Leukerbad in Valais, has seen its population shrink to just 240. The local school has been forced to close and many of the houses in the village are used as holiday homes, laying empty for much of the year.
Now residents are set to vote on a proposal that would offer new families cash to settle there in a bid to revitalize the village. Adults can expect to be offered 25,000 francs each (21,500 euros) while children would receive 10,000 francs (8,500 euros), a total of 60,000 euros for a family of four.
There are conditions attached to the deal. Prospective residents must be under the age of 45 and be prepared to stay for at least ten years. The property they buy, or build, must also be worth at least 200,000 francs (171,500 euros), and is required to be their primary residence.
The village authorities behind the plan are convinced the policy is affordable and that it represents a real investment in the future of Albinen, despite the initial outlay.
Anyone taking up the offer will certainly benefit from some bracing mountain air and incredible views over the Rhone Valley. Jobs in the village are scarce but the towns of Visp and Sion are just a short drive away, with Bern around two hours by train or car and Geneva just under three hours away.
Albinen isn’t the only Swiss village to find itself in the news recently. The tiny village of Corippo, population just 13, has just announced plans to turn itself into a giant hotel in a bid to stave off extinction.