Austria allowed more than 400 ski stations to open two days before it entered the country’s third coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier this month, the Austrian government announced that it would allow the opening of the ski station on December 24.
The government said that as an outdoor sport, skiing can be safely carried out if sufficient precautions are taken. However, hotels, bars and restaurants remain closed, effectively restricting locals’ ski slopes, and the blockade will also force the country’s shops and most of its services to close until mid-January.
Andreas Steibl, the head of the tourism department of Ischgl Resort, told AFP in a recent interview: “This is the first step. We hope we can open it as soon as possible. The infection rate allows.”
Ishcgl is a resort, and thousands of international skiers were infected in a massive European outbreak in March. Like most other ski resorts in Austria, Ischgl attracts thousands of people every year. The ski industry accounts for about 3% of Austria’s total GDP and is closely connected politically.
In the western province of Tyrol, skiing is one of the main economic drivers. 6 million skiers flock there every year, and there are about 8 skiers in each place. Without tourists, many resorts say that it is not economically feasible to repair slopes and operate lifts, and some hotels like Ischgl choose to open only a small part of their cable car and lift network.