This has been a fast news week in the world of skiing.

Way back on Monday the travel industry saw some hope, with the announcement that quarantine could be reduced to five days with a negative test.

This is a sad summary of where we are in November 2020: joy from an entire industry at the news that travelling to another country means you can take a (shorter) enforced confinement at home as your penance.

Skiers prepared to quarantine

Still, various surveys that appeared within hours all indicated that this was indeed good news.

Ski Weekend revealed that the reduction in quarantine meant that 67% of skiers were now ‘more likely to travel’, while Intersport Ski Hire reported that 55% of skiers would be prepared to quarantine for at least 5 days.

Traffic to websites went up.

The Mayor of Val Thorens/Les Menuires said he was ‘reasonably optimistic’ that the resorts would be open before Christmas.

There was even some discussion that ‘moonshot’ testing could make quarantine completely unnecessary by January.

Expect a ‘ski boom’

Yes, we could certainly expect a ‘ski boom’

But then the politicians started to get cold feet.

Less than 24 hours after the French Prime Minister discussed possible opening dates with ski resorts, with a decision promised within 10 days, President Macron said that in his view it was ‘impossible’ that ski resorts could open for Christmas:

“The government has held talks with the (ski) industry, but it seems impossible to consider reopening for the year-end festivities”

This kicked off a conversation across Europe about whether ski resorts should be open.

The Italians and the Germans don’t want them open, but the Austrians definitely do (and want to be compensated if they have to close)

In Switzerland, Markus Häsler, chief executive of Zermatt’s lift company, was quoted in the Financial Times saying that Italian and German calls to close resorts were nothing but ‘hot air’ and that Switzerland ‘will never ever go along’ with it.

In the meantime, French ski resorts have been kicking back at Macron’s ‘impossible’ statement.

Aside from the weird logic that says that cinemas, for example, are safe to open, but not ski resorts, there are 120,000 French jobs at stake directly and indirectly via snowsports.

‘Nous sommes en colère’

Yesterday, Herve Gaymard, President of the Savoie Department, wrote to Prime Minister Castex.

‘We are angry’, he wrote.

He pointed out the numerous preparations made by resorts to ensure safety this winter, from health protocols on the slopes to the provision of testing facilities in resort.

He asked that the government shows some flexibility and that they:

“Immediately stop making people think that the mountain is closed to tourists, because the fact is that the resorts remain open even if certain activities are not authorised.”

‘We are not an amusement park’

If M Gaymard was diplomatic, La Clusaz was more direct. Tweeting with the hashtag #BreakingNews, the resort noted that they exist all year round and don’t just ‘open or close like a shopping centre’:

‘It’s hard to understand how this government works’

The ESF – representing 17,000 ski instructors – were equally direct in a press statement released yesterday.

Responding to the news that outdoor activities were to be allowed once ‘deconfinement’ ended, they wonder how the mountain doesn’t come into this category:

“Is it harder to host in a French ski resort than in a French seaside resort?”

Lobbying continues

We will see what happens next. A petition has been set up and an open letter was sent to Macron yesterday from key local players and politicians.


This image and comment from Tignes perhaps says it the best