The start of this year’s ski season coincided with the fourth lockdown in many Austrian ski areas. But now there is good news for winter sports enthusiasts.
Vienna – Many winter sports enthusiasts had to forego skiing or snowboarding entirely in the past season. For a long time it looked good for the 2021/2022 season, but then the high number of cases in Austria and the low vaccination rate put winter sports fans back on their feet: a lockdown has been in effect throughout Austria since November 22, albeit for those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered should end after a maximum of 20 days. On Sunday evening it became known that an important winter sports rule is now changing.
Ski season in Austria: This rule is now changing
Tourism is a crucial source of income in Austria. Winter tourism alone accounted for 5.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 2019. The ski lifts were allowed to open last season, but the income was well below previous years. In 2020 there were around a third fewer overnight stays (-36 percent) than in the previous year, according to statistics from Advertising Austria emerges. In some regions, the income was completely lost, the Ischgl ski area, for example, remained closed last season.
This year everything should be different, but just at the beginning of the ski season the fourth lockdown came in Austria. Ischgl, for example, would have opened its slopes on November 25th, and the official website of the winter sports resort now states that the first day of skiing will be announced. Many other ski areas such as the Hintertux Glacier should have closed again on Monday. Because so far the regulation provided that ski lifts and cable cars could only be used during the lockdown to “cover personal needs” or for professional reasons, so ORF Tirol.
But now there is good news for winter sports enthusiasts. Contrary to the previous draft, ski lifts in Austria can now open or remain open during the lockdown. This emerges from the ordinance that was passed by the main committee of the National Council on Sunday evening. This corresponds to the regulation that already applied in Austria in the third lockdown around Christmas 2020. In order to be able to use coverable or closed gondolas, skiers must show proof of 2G and wear an FFP2 mask in accordance with the new regulation. In many ski areas in Austria, however, this was intended from the outset. According to the ordinance, the exercise of sport should take place alone or with important caregivers or relatives, such as the ORF Tirol reported.
Ski resorts in Austria: what will the 2021/2022 season be like?
The ski season in Austria does not only depend on the ski lifts, but also on the gastronomy, the hotel industry and of course the visitors from home and abroad. Accordingly, the country is now looking at the travel restrictions and the corona developments in neighboring countries, which make up a large proportion of the guests in Austria’s ski areas. Even before the lockdown in Austria, the hotel industry was faced with a wave of cancellations.
It is still unclear whether restaurants are allowed to open or have to remain closed, as last winter, said Franz Hörl, head of the Tyrolean Economic Association ORF Tirol. The Constitutional Court in Austria had subsequently declared this regulation from the previous season to be inadmissible. Without overnight accommodation, the current offer is currently aimed primarily at day tourists and locals. According to the government, the lockdown for vaccinated and convalescents will end on December 13th. It is not yet clear whether restaurants and hotels in ski areas will then be allowed to open with 2G rules. Winter sports fans have to worry about a halfway “normal” ski season.
List of rubric lists: © picture alliance / dpa-tmn | TVB Paznaun – Ischgl