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SKIING CONTINUES IN FRANCE BUT FOR HOW LONG?

Italy, Austria, Norway, Switzerland and Andorra have closed all their ski areas because of the coronavirus crisis.  In France the resorts are virtually all open.

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The French government has not advised resorts to close, so it’s business as usual.

If anything can be described as ‘usual’ at the moment.

More like ‘surreal’.

Flights are flying out this weekend taking many thousands of people to the ski resorts across the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Many are gung-ho and will not be put off from skiing and taking their holiday.

Adam Hazell “I’ve paid thousands for this holiday. I am just as likely to get it at home as I am in France.”

Many others though cancelled their holiday at the last minute as they considered the threat from coronavirus real.

Without an official decision to close the resorts they are out of pocket and most have lost many thousands of pounds.

Hugh Parry Was due to fly out at 6am today, heading to Les Arcs. After much debate and soul searching last night, we decided at 3am not to travel.

I am hugely disappointed and the kids are devastated but on balance we decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

Everywhere seems to moving towards lockdown and we didn’t want to chance the chaos of trying to get home if and when France does the same, plus the prospect of having to self-isolate on return, as seems increasingly likely.

I will no doubt lose the €k’s spent but family safety and health have to take priority.

Thanks Planetski for being the only reliable (& sensible) source of information on all this chaos.

Trish Harte Thank you PlanetSKI.eu for your updates, it was so hard trying to get information and decide to what do.

But sadly at 330am this morning we decided to not travel to Geneva and travel to France as the risk was just too big.

Such a shame France could not follow the lead of Austria, Switzerland, Italy etc as this weekend could prove chaotic for families and groups who travel if France changes its stance and decides to close.

Stay safe everyone and hopefully these strict measures will see this awful virus slowing down and eventually eradicated.

James Willmott Meant to have flown to Val T today but how could we when there is a pandemic happening.

Stayed home, lost £4200 but believe it’s the right decision but it’s pretty painful to lose all that money with no chance of getting it back.

Becky Amiss Supposed to be flying to Serre Chevalier now, didn’t go, too risky, lost all money

So, who decides when a ski resort closes and how does it happen?

In France the resorts themselves can obviously decide, but this rarely happens.

At the moment Montgenevre and Serre Chevalier have taken unilateral decisions to close, but they are on the Italian border and usually receive many Italian skiers and snowboarders.

It makes little business sense to remain open.

More usual is the local Prefecture obeys the instructions from Central Government.

At the moment the government is not advising that ski resorts close, so they aren’t.

In all the other countries it was also decision from on high, sometimes with local and tourist industry input.

The Swiss resorts closed because the Federal government told them too.

In the Aosta Valley in Italy the Province takes jurisdiction, so the Vallee d’Aosta authorities took the decision and told the resorts to shut shop.

At present in France there is a national ban on groups of more than 100 people gathering.

So, numbers are limited on the big cable cars and in venues, whether bars or leisure centres.

Events such as racing could attract such crowds so are banned.

A ski slope is not seen as a single venue.

This  Monday in France schools and universities are closing.

Some think that might be the time the authorities will do the same for ski resorts.

If there is a closure this week it will cause massive problems for the people in the resorts and the ski companies trying to re-patriate them.

“It will be a logistical nightmare,” was how a senior person in the operations department of a large travel agent put it to me.

“That is what happened in Italy when the resorts were ordered to close last Sunday when many skiers arrived the day before.”

I have been speaking to many in the UK ski industry to find out what is happening and assess the mood.

“If the French authorities allow the flights to go out on Saturday knowing there was a good chance the resorts will be shut next week, then that is an utter disgrace,” was how one senior figure in the UK Ski Travel Industry put it to me on Friday as his company watched and waited.

“Plus an insult to the people that ski in France and us operators that take them there.”

I spoke to him later to check on the situation

“Well we’ve sent out guests and at least we now have a bit of breathing space, for whatever happens,” was how he put it when it was clear the resorts were not going to be told to close.

If they do close many will now be very angry.

One PlanetSKI reader speak for many:

Phil Lawson Thanks PlanetSki for brilliant job you are doing.

We were due to fly out this morning but late last night due to uncertainty caused by French dalliance decided not to take the risk.

Only wish the French government would show same level of respect.

Call me cynical but could pressure from resorts concerned for loss of income by closing season early want one final bumper weekend by getting groups out this weekend only to be informed on Monday that you are now stuck in a village with no skiing and nothing to do other than worry about getting back and probable self isolating after one day of skiing.

Dare I say typical French!!

Here at PlanetSKI we will be watching events closely and will let you know as soon as we find out…

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