During the first wave of infections last season, some ski centres became breeding grounds for the coronavirus, accelerating its spread across Europe.(Pixabay)
During the first wave of infections last season, some ski centres became breeding grounds for the coronavirus, accelerating its spread across Europe.(Pixabay)

Europe’s ski resorts have mountain to climb to save season amid pandemic

Europe’s ski resorts are desperately trying to salvage the new season amid the pandemic, but travel restrictions, the need for social distancing and disagreement among governments about whether to open at all mean they have a mountain to climb.
By Reuters | Posted by Jahnavi Gupta | Passo Del Tonale, Italy
UPDATED ON NOV 28, 2020 04:22 PM IST

Europe’s ski resorts are desperately trying to salvage the new season amid the pandemic, but travel restrictions, the need for social distancing and disagreement among governments about whether to open at all mean they have a mountain to climb.

During the first wave of infections last season, some ski centres became breeding grounds for the coronavirus, accelerating its spread across Europe.

With the continent in the grip of another wave of the virus, some authorities are nervous about reopening slopes for Christmas, the New Year and beyond, even though resorts have plans to mitigate the risks of a repeat of early 2020.

“If we (Italians) are the only ones not to open, it would be an economic disaster,” said Michele Bertolini, who heads a lobby group for owners of local businesses like restaurants and ski rental shops in the small resort of Passo del Tonale in the Trentino region, near Austria and Switzerland.

National leaders are at odds over what to do.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said it would not be possible “to allow (Christmas) holidays on the snow” and wants an agreement among European countries to act in unison.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which has few resorts but many skiers who flock to other countries, agrees. She admits, however, that striking a deal will be difficult given resistance from Austria, a skiing hotspot.

“If we are closed but other areas are open, then probably Italians will choose to spend their holidays in another country and this would be doubly disastrous,” Bertolini told Reuters.

At the Passo del Tonale resort, machines pump artificial snow on to slopes in anticipation of the season starting. Chair lifts bob idly on cables and restaurants are locked shut.

Swiss resorts, meanwhile, have started opening and do not plan to close, despite a relatively high number of deaths nationally related to the coronavirus.

“If it’s open, I’ll definitely ski,” said Swede Max Ahlstedt, on the glacier in Zermatt which offers year-round skiing. “You just have to...accept wearing a mask.”

Austria is under a national lockdown that ends on December 7 and resorts hope to reopen before Christmas. France is keeping resorts open but lifts closed at Christmas.

Win back trust’

Travel restrictions complicate matters, as many of the millions of Europeans who ski each year go abroad to do so.

Austria depends heavily on tourism from Germany, which currently requires anyone arriving from Austria to go into quarantine. Conte has threatened similar measures for Italians visiting Austria to ski.

Despite the obstacles, some resorts are hoping to open, even if numbers are sharply down compared to a normal season.

“We want to send a signal that we have learned a lot from our experiences and win back trust,” said Andreas Steibl, director of the tourism body at the resort of Ischgl, the location of Austria’s worst coronavirus outbreak to date.

Thousands of people were infected there last winter, including foreign visitors who then went home.

Repairing its reputation is essential to the resort that called itself the “Ibiza of the Alps” because of its party scene. Ischgl was originally supposed to open on November 26. That has been pushed provisionally to December 17.

Enjoying the great outdoors on skis typically involves spending a lot of time inside.

Many ski lifts are enclosed, restaurants are the only place to get a hot meal on the slopes during the day and skiers like to stop in bars at the end of the day.

With social distancing rules reducing capacity in those places, and fewer visitors overall, the season will be a shadow of previous ones.

“No one believes in a 20% fall (in Austrian revenues) anymore,” said Oliver Fritz, senior economist at Austrian economic think-tank Wifo.

“My rather optimistic forecast was minus 30% for the whole period but even getting near that would be sensational.”

For national economies that is billions of euros less. In Austria alone, the Finance Ministry estimates that revenue from ski resorts is worth roughly 800 million euros a week.

For local communities the longer term impact is worrying.

“We have infrastructure, mainly consisting of ski lifts, which needs a lot of investment,” said Bertolini in Passo del Tonale.

“If these big investors hit economic crisis, my great fear is that we won’t just say goodbye to next year but we will need several years to get back on our feet.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
The travel industry and travellers, both expects 2021 to be better than 2020. (Photo: Deepak Sansta / HT)
The travel industry and travellers, both expects 2021 to be better than 2020. (Photo: Deepak Sansta / HT)

Wanderlust reignited: Republic Day weekend attract tourists

By Ruchika Garg, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 04:21 PM IST
According to a leading travelling company, there has been a 30% increase in bookings for the upcoming Republic Day weekend.
Close
Dubai has suspended non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants until further notice as coronavirus infections surge in the Middle East trade hub.(Unsplash)
Dubai has suspended non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants until further notice as coronavirus infections surge in the Middle East trade hub.(Unsplash)

Dubai cancels non-essential surgery, live entertainment as Covid-19 cases surge

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 03:50 PM IST
Dubai has suspended non-essential surgery for a month and live entertainment in hotels and restaurants until further notice as coronavirus infections surge in the Middle East trade hub.
Close
The resumption of tourism follows a pilot project that began December 26 in which 1,500 tourists from Ukraine visited Sri Lanka in such a travel bubble.(Unsplash)
The resumption of tourism follows a pilot project that began December 26 in which 1,500 tourists from Ukraine visited Sri Lanka in such a travel bubble.(Unsplash)

Sri Lanka reopens to tourists after 10 months

AP, Colombo, Sri Lanka
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 03:44 PM IST
Sri Lanka reopened to foreign tourists Thursday after a nearly 10-month pandemic closure that cut deeply into the Indian Ocean island nation's lucrative travel industry.
Close
Representational Image(Unsplash)
Representational Image(Unsplash)

Private jets are handy in a pandemic

Bloomberg
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 03:35 PM IST
The convenience and perceived health benefits of flying private are attracting converts. The companies that service the planes may be even bigger winners.
Close
Sri Lanka(Unsplash)
Sri Lanka(Unsplash)

Sri Lanka reopens to tourists 10 months after closure due to Covid-19 pandemic

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 03:17 PM IST
Full operations also resumed Thursday at the island's two international airports, accommodating the commercial flights.
Close
The members of the committee will also hold a meeting with the officials of the Department of Culture and Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India, along with representatives of the UT government, with focus on, 'promotion and preservation of archaeological sites and artefacts here.(Pixabay)
The members of the committee will also hold a meeting with the officials of the Department of Culture and Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India, along with representatives of the UT government, with focus on, 'promotion and preservation of archaeological sites and artefacts here.(Pixabay)

House panel arrives in Kashmir to assess road, travel and hospitality sectors

ANI, Srinagar (jammu And Kashmir) [india]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 01:26 PM IST
The parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture arrived in Kashmir on Wednesday on a three-day visit to make an assessment of road, travel and hospitality sectors.
Close
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Wednesday that his government also will ban flights from the U.K., South Africa and South America beginning Saturday for a month.(Yahoo)
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Wednesday that his government also will ban flights from the U.K., South Africa and South America beginning Saturday for a month.(Yahoo)

Dutch propose curfew to rein in virus, will ban more flights

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 12:54 PM IST
The Dutch government wants to impose a curfew as part of beefed-up restrictions to rein in the spread of a new more contagious virus variant that already accounts for at least one in 10 Dutch infections.
Close
Authorities are asking people to stay home during the Lunar New Year holidays in February as part of the efforts to prevent another debilitating outbreak.(Unsplash)
Authorities are asking people to stay home during the Lunar New Year holidays in February as part of the efforts to prevent another debilitating outbreak.(Unsplash)

China to impose virus testing on Lunar New Year travellers as cases rise

Reuters, Shanghai/beijing
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 10:01 AM IST
China plans to impose strict Covid testing requirements during the Lunar New Year holiday season, when tens of millions of people are expected to travel, as it battles the worst wave of new infections since March 2020.
Close
Alabama museum to restore full-sized mockup of space shuttle(AP)
Alabama museum to restore full-sized mockup of space shuttle(AP)

Space shuttle mockup in Alabama museum to get a multimillion dollar revamp

AP, Huntsville
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 09:48 AM IST
The US Space & Rocket Center in Alabama will be restoring the space shuttle mockup that has been standing outside the museum for over three decades. The restoration process will be a multimillion dollar project and will take up several years.
Close
Thailand targets tourism boost with marijuana meals, cosmetics(Pexels)
Thailand targets tourism boost with marijuana meals, cosmetics(Pexels)

Thailand targets tourism boost with marijuana meals, cosmetics

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 07:29 AM IST
The health and education ministries of Thailand, on Wednesday, announced that proper trainings will be given to people to make meals and cosmetics out of marijuana. The ministries are hoping to lure the foreign tourists with these products.
Close
The Seychelles government has opened the country for tourism for those who have taken both the doses of Covid-19 vaccine and have a negative report from a RT-PCR test done 72 hours prior to the journey, said an official statement on Wednesday.(Unsplash)
The Seychelles government has opened the country for tourism for those who have taken both the doses of Covid-19 vaccine and have a negative report from a RT-PCR test done 72 hours prior to the journey, said an official statement on Wednesday.(Unsplash)

Seychelles opens up for tourism for vaccinated travellers

PTI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 05:46 PM IST
The Seychelles government has opened the country for tourism for those who have taken both the doses of Covid-19 vaccine and have a negative report from a RT-PCR test done 72 hours prior to the journey, said an official statement on Wednesday.
Close
The Dutch government is set to add the first nationwide curfew since World War II to its already broad lockdown on Wednesday in a bid to limit the spread of new coronavirus mutations in the Netherlands.(Reuters)
The Dutch government is set to add the first nationwide curfew since World War II to its already broad lockdown on Wednesday in a bid to limit the spread of new coronavirus mutations in the Netherlands.(Reuters)

Dutch government to introduce first curfew since World War II

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 05:05 PM IST
The Dutch government is set to add the first nationwide curfew since World War II to its already broad lockdown on Wednesday in a bid to limit the spread of new coronavirus mutations in the Netherlands, broadcaster RTL said.
Close
Singapore Airline sets up pre-departure Covid-19 tests to Revive Travel(Twitter/hellofinstra)
Singapore Airline sets up pre-departure Covid-19 tests to Revive Travel(Twitter/hellofinstra)

Singapore Airline sets up pre-departure Covid-19 tests to Revive Travel

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 10:28 AM IST
In order to revive travel demand destroyed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore Airlines has now started a trail of pre-departure coronavirus tests for people flying from Singapore as well as those travelling to the city-state from Jakarta and Medan in Indonesia
Close
National Mall lights up for Americans unable to attend Biden's inauguration(Twitter/kyle_teamjoe)
National Mall lights up for Americans unable to attend Biden's inauguration(Twitter/kyle_teamjoe)

National Mall lights up for Americans unable to attend Biden's inauguration

ANI
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 10:11 AM IST
A display of 'Field of Flags' (made up of 191,500 US flags) and 56 pillars of light (representing the 50 states and US territories) illuminate the National Mall in honour of Americans who can't attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on January 20
Close
Snow fills Kashmir resort with tourists again(AP)
Snow fills Kashmir resort with tourists again(AP)

Tourists make way to the snow filled Kashmir resorts again

AP, Gulmarg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 08:22 AM IST
  • Gulmarg is once again filled with domestic tourists who are having a gala time skiing, sledging and trekking. That is not all, the resorts are sold out until February end.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP