After three seasons affected by the epidemic, another hard winter awaits skiers. High energy prices related to anti-Russian sanctions and the war in Ukraine will also affect the operation of winter resorts. Some alpine ski areas already assume today that they will not have enough money to operate. In Switzerland, there is open talk about reducing the speed of cable cars and lifts, while in Austria they are preparing for a season without night skiing. Furthermore, due to the extreme prices of season tickets, skiing can only be for the rich.
In the Alpine countries, the debate about the form of the following winter season was already in full swing at the end of the summer. A number of countries are planning to go into austerity mode due to high energy prices. Foreign ski area operators complain that they will not have enough money to operate lifts and cable cars due to rising costs. Their electricity prices will rise more than tenfold compared to previous winters, which they say is unsustainable, and they are therefore asking for support from the government.
Especially for smaller resorts, this could spell death. Like the Czech ones, during the last seasons marked by the covid epidemic, they could not create any reserves and are on the verge of collapse.
Among Czechs, neighboring Austria is the most popular foreign destination for winter fun. There, at least a 10% fare increase is expected for cable cars. The Association of Tyrolean Ski Areas anticipates that there will be fewer lifts in operation and, for example, no evening and night skiing at all in order to save on lighting costs.
They expect a general increase in prices in Italy as well. The costs for operators will not only increase for electricity, but also for fuel, which is needed for the daily maintenance of the slopes. It will be much more expensive due to the cost of utilities, mainly heating, and accommodation, which may discourage some tourists. Because of this, hoteliers expect that some customers may cancel pre-negotiated reservations.
The Swiss government is counting on a plan to reduce energy consumption by 20% before winter. This could also affect the operation of the cable cars. Of course, even snowmaking itself is energy-intensive. Disruption of the winter season, however, would mean a much bigger problem for the entire economy. In the land of the Helvetic Cross, they are thus trying to figure out under what circumstances the season will be able to take place. The first ideas have already appeared, such as slowing down the speed of some cable cars and stopping others completely, turning off the elevators, approach belts or closing the hot water taps. In any case, there will be at least a reduction in comfort.
France plans to reduce energy consumption by 10% in the next two years. Representatives of the popular resort of Val-d’Isère said they will follow government guidelines and try to reduce energy consumption this year. According to them, the price tag of a weekly ski pass in a popular French resort will rise from last year’s 324 to 360 euros.
There is not much talk about the ski season in the Czech Republic yet. Given that energy prices are rising at record highs in our country, similar problems can be expected as elsewhere in Europe. For some smaller resorts, which need artificial snow to a greater extent, especially in lower areas, the consequences of the umpteenth damaged season can be fatal.