As the number of coronaviruses skyrockets across Europe, winter vacationers are urged to make sure they are vaccinated and to book ski trips with reputable companies.
While it is highly unlikely that the UK government will reintroduce travel restrictions on travel to Europe, the situation remains precarious. Austria has imposed a “fire break” confinement of up to 20 days. France and Germany are also experiencing fourth waves of Covid-19 infections.
Lynsey Devon, founder of Heaven Publicity, who has worked in the ski industry for more than 30 years, said she hopes the Austrian lockdown is a preventative measure to get more people vaccinated.
“Skiing is safe as long as you are vaccinated and follow local rules, and hospital beds are not full. The real problem is the constantly changing rules. Book with a tour operator and they can accompany customers through the process. Being unvaccinated, she said, was “a bigger headache.”
Industry insiders say there is now very little availability at European ski resorts. The peak dates – Christmas, New Years, February semester and Easter – are almost full.
“The industry felt the full brow of the pandemic when skiers had to stop from March 2020. Only die-hard skiers who want to glacier skiing are in the resorts so early. The real push will come when the schools go their separate ways, and the industry needs this season, ”added Devon.
Austria’s lockdown is due to end on December 13. In France, the government has stressed that ski resorts will remain open. However, the French government has just reintroduced the wearing of compulsory masks in a wide variety of indoor public spaces. Those who are not vaccinated must provide a negative Covid test every 24 hours – even to enter the ski lifts.
On Thursday, ministers announced that the French vaccine passport, already compulsory for bars, restaurants and places of entertainment, would be extended to ski lifts. Anyone over the age of 12 will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a vaccine and have recovered from Covid-19 within the past 180 days.
Rob Stewart, founder of Ski Press and Mountain Press, said Austria’s lockdown was a blow to the industry, but it was encouraging that ski resorts were set to open before Christmas , some even being open now.
“Unlike last winter, governments are keen to keep ski resorts in operation, but they will impose strict rules depending on the number of cases. If you are vaccinated, things are simple; if you’re not, it will be complicated, ”added Stewart.
Emma Morison, general manager of the Oxygène ski school in France, said that although the number of coronavirus infections increased, she was confident this season would continue.
“We don’t have a crystal ball, but we have all learned a lot about Covid-19 and its transmission over the past 18 months. We have been planning for more than a year to resume skiing and all mountain professionals feel ready to open in complete safety, ”she added.
Meanwhile, others working in the industry have urged UK skiers to book with reputable travel agents to avoid cancellations and hassles.
James Cove, editor-in-chief of ski news site PlanetSki, acknowledged that it had been a frustrating time for UK skiers and snowboarders who wanted to return to the slopes, and suggested they look further for the ski holidays. winter.
“No one really knows what will happen beyond the next four weeks. If they tell you otherwise, they don’t know what they are talking about, ”he said.
“The cases and vaccination rates in Austria and Switzerland do not look good, but they are in line with expectations in the mountain regions of France and Italy. The numbers look good in Norway and Spain if people want to look beyond more traditional destinations, ”he added.