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Tourism in Austria struggles with Covid rules

Ski season with Omicron
Winter break in the Alps: Austrian tourism struggles with Covid rules

Only with proof of vaccination and an FFP2 mask: Ski vacationers in Zuchensee in Austria

Only with proof of vaccination and an FFP2 mask: Ski vacationers in Zuchensee in Austria

© Barbara Gindl / APA / DPA

February is very important for business at the ski resorts. But hotels in Austria this year fear half-empty homes. In addition to the epidemic, other problems loom.

At the beginning of the winter season, the Austrian suffers tourism Although some announced the easing of Corona with restrictions and a decrease in booking numbers. In February, when schools in Germany and other European countries go for their winter vacation, hotels in the Alpine country are usually 80 per cent occupied. But for now, bookings for this year’s peak season are less than 50 percent, Martin Stanits of the Austrian Hotel Association (ÖHV) Dr.

The government’s announcement on Saturday brought a glimmer of hope, according to expectations, that omicronThe wave will reach its peak in the coming days. Because of the expected decline and the relatively low occupancy of beds in hospitals, the conservative green coalition government wants to gradually lift restrictions in the coming weeks.

From February 5th, the curfew in the catering trade will be extended from 10pm until midnight. This fulfills important requirements of the tourism industry. From February 19, unvaccinated people with negative tests will also be allowed to return to hotels and bars. to enter Austria However, the government has not announced any easing. At the moment, adults can have a trouble-free winter vacation only with vaccination.

Relief comes too late

The industry welcomed the steps, but enthusiasm was limited. “It’s obviously a slight improvement. It’s going in the right direction,” Stanits said. But the relief came too late.

Tourism officials have criticized the government for insisting on shortening the validity of vaccination certificates. From February 1, the second vaccination will only be valid for six months instead of the previous nine months as a ticket to many areas of daily life. “We know that many guests from our home markets still lack booster vaccinations,” said Susan Krause-Winkler, who represents the hotel industry at the Chamber of Commerce. Since three quarters of every night it stays in the winter before pandemic Attributed to foreign guests, the government’s course on this issue was “extremely problematic”.

According to industry representatives, demand is also significantly affected by the high number of infections, which has led to Austria from Germany It was again classified as a high-risk area in mid-January. As a result, unvaccinated German children are allowed to ski in the alpine country, but they must be in quarantine for five days upon their return. Germany is the most important customer market for tourism in the Alpine country. German guests book over a third of all overnight stays in winter.

After the 2020/21 winter season has been almost completely canceled, according to state statistics, overnight stays in November and December last year were almost half the pre-corona value. According to the ÖHV, at least four percent of hotels will remain closed this winter.

Tourism expert Oliver Fritz of the Institute for Economic Research in Vienna noted that many companies will soon have to repay state-backed loans granted to bridge the Corona recession. “The question is whether everyone can do it,” he told DPA.

In addition, winter tourism will have to struggle with climate change and labor shortages in the coming years. “The main challenges have nothing to do with the epidemic,” Fritz said.

Albert Ooty / dpa

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