The snow sector was one of the first affected (from an economic point of view) by the pandemic, having to accelerate its closure abruptly, in mid-March, due to the states of alarm decreed in most countries Europeans. The impossibility of opening during the December bridge and in many cases at Christmas aggravates the situation.
Spanish stations, which generate more than 3,100 direct jobs, received last season to 4.8 million skiers and 118.8 million euros entered for ski lifts, only three million less than the previous one, which was complete, thanks to an increase in the average turnover per visitor, according to data from the Spanish Association of Ski and Mountain Resorts (Atudem).
In Spain, the Christmas period accounts for a third of annual income. For the moment, the stations have been closed on the December bridge, with the exception of the Santa Inés Snow Point, in Soria (between the Picos de Urbión and the Sierra de la Cebollera). Local media published images of the sold out in the car park and long lines at the ski lift.
Another little station Laciana-Leitariegos Valley, has partially opened its doors this Wednesday with 4.6 km skiable. But, among the great ones, at the moment only Baqueira has announced its intention to start the season on December 11, pending orders from the Generalitat. The accesses to the station that will be put into operation will be Baqueira 1500, Ruda, Tanau and Orri.
In San Isidro they assure that “the conditioning of the slopes marks Saturday 12 December as a possible opening date.”
Sierra Nevada only clarifies that “it works in all sectors of the station to inaugurate the winter 20/21 campaign as soon as possible.”
France without skiing until January
Other European governments such as the French, Italian or German have prohibited the opening of the resorts until January and, in addition, the first has threatened to carry out border controls to prevent travel to other countries where it will be possible to ski.
A threat, launched by the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, when announcing “restrictive and dissuasive” measures to prevent the French from going to those countries for health reasons and also “to avoid creating situations of imbalance” with the French stations, which do not They may function by administrative order initially until January 20.
But beyond this device, widely criticized for the difficulty in putting it into practice, France has focused on seeking a European coordination if not to obtain the closure of the ski resorts in neighboring countries, at least so that their citizens cannot use them.
The European Commission (EC) has asked countries prudence to avoid an upturn in infections and to coordinate their measures, but the competence over the opening of the stations rests with each Member State.
Italy: closing until Kings
In Italy, the stations will remain closed until January 6 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Christmas period, a decision that has put the sector on a war footing, which represents about 1% of the country’s GDP and that last year had a turnover of 10,000 million euros.
Germany: until January 10
In Germany, the restrictions against the pandemic will apply at least until January 10, which implies that the beginning of the ski season, which normally starts between November and December, would not start before that date and only if, in that moment, the evolution of the pandemic allows it.
Andorra: until the beginning of January
The Andorran Government has also decided to delay the opening date of the ski season until the beginning of January, due to the health situation and limited mobility that is being experienced in several European territories such as France or Spain, which provide the bulk of visitors to your stations.
Austria will open at Christmas
Instead, Austria will open its ski resorts from December 24 next, although it keeps the entire hotel and gastronomic sector closed until at least January 7.
His government resisted for weeks the demand by Italy and Germany to keep ski resorts closed to prevent a new spike in the coronavirus, claiming that it has imposed sufficient health security measures and that ski resorts have been banned. famous «aprés ski» parties, causing thousands of infections last March.
Switzerland: cantons decide
In Switzerland, stations may only open with an authorization from the cantonal governments, depending on the epidemiological situation in the region and that the facilities have strict prevention plans. In principle, the Government has authorized the opening from the 22nd, with the aforementioned final decision of the regional authorities. By the end of October, some 110,000 people in Switzerland had bought the Magic Pass, an inexpensive pass that allows skiing in more than 30 stations.