Source Travel WeeklyUpdated: Jan 29th 2021

Ski resorts in Switzerland have provided “really safe experiences” for skiers this winter, giving the trade confidence for the return of international tourists.

Talking to a Travel Weekly webcast, the UK boss of Switzerland Tourism said the country’s ski resorts have been open to Swiss skiers since mid-November, with some “spectacular” snow on the slopes.

He said the resorts and hotels made “huge” investments in safety measures and have been able to test their Covid-safe protocols to iron out any problems that have arisen.

A Clean and Safe programme was introduced, in addition to government requirements such as masks and takeaway service instead of open restaurants.

“Every part of this experience, every player, every supplier, every provider, has to fulfil very strict safety criteria and procedures,” he told the webcast.

“For example, gondolas are only running on two-thirds of the capacity.

“Safety procedures are very strict. They’ve worked.”

He said early problems with queueing were sorted thanks close monitoring by staff in each resort to ensure safe social distancing.

“The resorts have hired armies of people who make sure that not too many people even approach the gondola station,” he said.

“They’re all dressed in their yellow vests; they’re called Covid angels in one place.

“A lot has been invested but it works. There were no major outbreaks anywhere.

“Next year, we can say that we had a full season to test that.”

Joe Ponte, chief executive of Hotelplan UK which incorporates brands such as Inghams and Esprit, is confident that these safety measures are now well established and bode well for next winter.

“Even if Covid is still around by then, as an industry we will be in a place where we can provide a safer travel environment,” he said.

“I’m confident that by next year…the resorts will have all reacted to be able to provide really safe skiing experiences.”

He said there may be a chance for “limited volumes” of UK skiers to reach European slopes in April, if travel restrictions allow, but most of the focus is now on winter 2021-22.

Simon McIntyre, general manager for ski for Iglu.com, said his agency is having to manage the expectations of die-hard skiers who are keen to book for this current season.

However, he is seeing a pick-up in demand for next winter, especially as the vaccination programmes give more confidence to consumers.

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