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Patrick Thorne

14 Mar 20

Anger in the Alps

Patrick Thorne

14 Mar 20

Whilst there is widespread sympathy amongst skiers for the plight of ski resorts across Europe and the world that have had to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s some unhappiness that the French government announced measures that resulted in the immediate closure of the country’s resorts at very short notice, just after tens of thousands of skiers arrived to start their ski weeks.

Tour operators say they had been reassured by French resorts that they would not be closing and so many flew in their guests as planned on Saturday, checking them in to accommodation, stocking up for their week in the supermarket and collecting ski rentals and passes ready to start their skiing this morning.

Some had been re-booked to French resorts after a holidays planned to Andorra, Austria, Italy or Switzerland were cancelled when ski areas there closed.

However the French government announced late last night measures which meant the closure of all French ski resorts, saying it must happen within a few hours, by midnight last night.

As this was a logistical impossibility resorts and travel companies are now struggling to get skiers back home and questioning why the announcement, or some warning of it, was not made a few hours earlier so that the current situation could have been avoided or at least the impact reduced.

As it is, tour operators are doing all they can to get skiers home. Some however say there are no flights available and are bringing skiers back by bus.

“We are getting over our anger. It was literally not until 10pm last night that we were confident of the information we were receiving. The same people who had assured us on Thursday, Friday or even Saturday that they would remain open, have now all closed,” Diane Palumbo, Sales and Marketing Director at tour operator SkiWorld told The Guardian, which estimated that 30,000 Brits are affected.

Andorra, Austria, Norway and Switzerland all announced they were closing this weekend on Thursday or Friday allowing those in resorts to end their trips and head home as scheduled in many cases, and for tour operators to cancel departures planned for Saturday to those countries.

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