COVID-19 and Ski Resorts (IV). The Road to Recovery


Obergurgl, Tirol (Austria). Foto: Ski Paradise

The 2020 outbreak of COVID-19 has produced the longest shutdown of tourism on record (and we don't know how long it will last).

The Tourism sector, and ski resorts particularly, are severely affected by the current Corona crisis, and the global spread of the pandemic is going to impose a significant dampening effect on the rate of recovery.

Three elements will be decisive in the process of recovery of tourist demand in general and in ski resorts in particular:


  • Fear management and confidence-building


Risk and fear may alter tourists' travel plans, influence their choice of destinations and, in some cases, lead them to decide not to travel. How countries and destinations manage the crisis and get out of it will be a fundamental element in their recovery process.

The speed and strength of the recovery will depend on the perception of risk, and the guarantees that destinations can offer to visitors.

Mature markets may adopt a more cautious approach to travel, looking for safe destinations. Proximity and moving within a socio-culturally similar geographical space can be decisive elements in increasing the sense of security for these markets.

The worst-case scenario for recovery would be that COVID-19 was perceived by people like an open crisis with governments that do not control the outbreak.

Closed borders and restrictions to tourism will be still in place until is completely safe to travel again.

  • The Economy

Safety and security represent only a part of the bundle of issues producing weak travel demand. Coronavirus is a global economic catastrophe. Figures from countries around the world show we are seeing a massive surge in unemployment, unprecedented in historical terms.

Current uncertainty defies all efforts to forecast where the economy may go in the future.

High unemployment rates and people's fear of losing their jobs lead to lower consumption, starting a cycle that will lead to an economic depression. Concerns about the economy falling consumer confidence and consumer concerns about not having enough money to travel. Reticences to spend will slow recovery long after the direct crisis ends.

After more than three weeks of severe restrictions due to the Corona crisis, surveys are beginning to show a declining mood in society, with more people expecting a very negative or negative economic development in the future.

As a consequence, more people will limit their consumption after the crisis. This would particularly affect travel, shopping, restaurants and cafes, and the purchase of luxury goods. In addition to consumption, the possibility/desire to go on vacation this summer also decreases as uncertainty about the future increases. For people who still want to go on vacation, most of them will choose to travel within their own country.

But we can be optimistic. The good news for ski resorts is skiing tourism has shown in previous situations that it is more resilient to the crisis than other sectors in the tourism industry. Travel is related to income and the family income of skiers is higher on average than that of other tourism models.


  • Self-reward. The desire to travel


The coronavirus lockdown and mass quarantines are typified to be long periods of hardship and strict modification of normal behavior patterns. Evidence shows that a sharp period of restriction results in an increased desire to travel. Travel is considered a core necessity by a large share of the western population and a fundamental part of their way of life. Tourists are mainly motivated by the desire to escape, to "get away from it all". One of the key characteristics of the XXI century tourists is their need to escape from everyday routines and issues in a bid to achieve some form of fulfillment. The current trend of tourist experiences include some degree of escapism, and many people would express the need to travel away as the main reason for taking a holiday.

Skiing Tourism provides an opportunity for the population who are seeking self-fulfillment and excitement through participating in physically and mentally stimulating activities while traveling to breathtaking mountainous areas. For passionate skiers travel to ski resorts to ski is the ultimate form of self-reward or self-indulgence.