In these times it is difficult to stay positive... the soft lock down turns into a hard lock down and there are more and more doubts about the skiing season 2021. The e-paper traveller-online.at published a research about the Austrians' feeling about winter holidays 2021 which might be true for Europeans in general as well. Let's have a look into the study's outcome and my comments....
1) Perceived risk of Corona-infection during the winter holidays
As per the study, 65.6% believe that there might be a high Corona-infection risk with apres-ski. 31% think that they could be infected when queuing at the skilift and 30% when being in the gondola.
Well, there will not be the apres-ski as we know it from the past seasons. If so, there will be some kind of responsible apres-ski with people seated on tables outside - only with a maximum of 6 persons as per current regulations - which are well apart from each other with gentle background music So, it will be a calmer, more relaxed and definitely new way of 'apres-ski'. In Zell am See, for example, the pedestrian area is planned to turn into a lounge. The apres-ski will be turned into an apero-ski.
The ski lift operators have worked on Corona-save queuing systems like having special staff to remind the skiers about keeping the distance. In Val Gardena, for example, they have installed a special ski-app where skiers can see live which slopes and skilifts are busy at the moment so that they might choose instantly other routes to avoid queuing or too long contact with others. Also, please note that when queuing people have to cover their noses and mouths.
As for the skilifts and the gondolas, I would like to add two very clear points: gondolas and skilifts are considered as public transportation where the nose-mouth-masks are obligatory. Further, the skilift operators seek to put only families or fellow-skiers into one gondola, possibly not mixed up with others.
2) Three reasons against winter holidays 2021
As per the published study, 51,5% are afraid of getting infected by Corona during the winter holidays. 31,4% are not interested in winter holidays 2021, as they have never been interested in this kind of vacation. 25,1% mention financial reasons why they would rather not think about a skiing holiday in 2021.
The risk getting infected during a winter holiday is not higher than when staying at home and following regular activities the own flat or house needs to be left for. When avoiding obviously crowded places and when acting self-responsibly, the risk is minimal. Also, being outside in the fresh air - especially in the mountains - , possibly with sun :), is good for our health and for our immune system. As per a study done by the Italian Val Gardena, there are 7000 sqm of space for each and every guest-bed in the valley. We just need to spread out and consider the different winter activities.
For those who have been too much into winter holidays - this is fair enough. Here I would just like to add that winter holidays are not always necessarily about skiing and the therewith involved costs of the skipass and the skiing equipment which are - I have to admit - not too less. But what about the alternative activities in the fresh mountain air like snowshoe hiking, winterhiking, cross-country skiing, or ice skating.... ? As for my part, a new surrounding, fresh air, good food, some activities and some days of just getting pampered gives fresh energy :).
Last but not least there is the financial question... understandably enough. During these past - already 8! - months, many are in short working hours getting just a part of their usual salary or have lost their job. Even if there is not enough money available for a whole week of holidays, it might be a good idea to reload the batteries for just some days - and if it is only for 3 or 4 days. I have good news: we have renegotiated with our hotels in the Austrian and Italian skiing areas to allow flexible arrivals and short stays from 3 nights on....
3) If booking, then later
As per the study, only 32,4% are planning a skiing vacation for the upcoming winter season 2021. 25% of those (so in total 8% of the study participants) have already booked their skiing holidays for 2021. The rest is waiting, the uncertainty is too big. Also, according to the study, the Austrians would be ready to book their holidays not earlier than 12 days in advance.
This conduct is very clear and understandable for me. This is also why we have been and are still working with our partner hotels in Austria and Italy on taking different actions and providing special conditions.... like an extra-long Early booking bonus (until 15.12.) or special Covid-19 cancellation conditions in case of closed regions or boarders. Bookings can be cancelled free of charge until 1 day before arrival.
Stay tuned, as we are also working on Last-minute specials.... taking into account the aboce described booking tendency and behaviour.
Concluding, I think that we need a very specific and clear communication about what a skiing holiday 2021 might look like. Check out the webinar recordings where I described in 20 minutes region per region the different activities and actions taken for this upcoming winter season. Again, of course, a lot depends on the self-responsibility of each and everyone of us.
Let's spread the word and let's hope for a skiing season!