Ski Season Set to Get Underway in Australia
24th May 2020
Last modified on June 11th, 2020
Three more resorts announce they are opening. They follow Thredbo and Mt Buller. We look at what the experience may be like, what other resorts may learn & ask if it can be economically viable.
Ski resorts in Australia traditionally open at the beginning of June – the Queen’s Official Birthday.
Not this year.
However resorts will be opening later in the month – just two weeks later than normal.
Thredbo is New South Wales has said it will open on June 22nd.
Travel restrictions across NSW will be lifted on June 1, with journeys for any reason, including for day trips and holidays, allowed.
Skiers and snowboarders will no longer be able to hire equipment, helmets or clothing and group skiing lessons will not take place.
With staggered access and spaced out queuing, long waits for ski-lifts are also to be expected.
It is thought social distancing rules may only permit as little as 50% capacity on the slopes at Thredbo.
Vail Resorts has announced that Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia will open for skiing and snowboarding on 24th June.
It follows approval by the New South Wales and Victorian governments.
Each resort will enact a COVID-19 Safe Operating Plan developed in consultation with industry and government leaders.
It will include social distancing measures, enhanced cleaning protocols and necessary changes to regularly offered programs and services.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to open our resorts for the 2020 snow season, especially given the difficult year endured by our mountain communities, and we take seriously the responsibility we have to keep our employees, guests and communities safe in this new environment,” said Pete Brulisauer, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Vail Resorts, Perisher and Australia.
“Delaying our traditional opening from the June Long Weekend to 24 June is intentional to ensure our entire team has the time to fully understand and embrace our new COVID-19 Safe Operating Plan so that we can deliver a safe experience for our guests.
“We thank our guests in advance for their patience, understanding and cooperation as we all adapt to the new social distancing measures required to allow us to enjoy skiing and snowboarding this season.”
Skiers and snowboarders will only be able to access the resorts with a pre-purchased pass or lift tickets; on-the-day lift ticket purchases will not be available.
Social distancing will be carefully managed at each resort, based on the amount of terrain and lifts open.
Details about resort operations will be announced in the coming weeks.
Mt Buller in Victoria in Australia has posted it hopes to open for skiing and snowboarding after June 22nd.
It made the announcement on its Facebook Page.
“There is a lot to work through before the lifts can turn,” said a statement from the resort.
“The finer details of our COVID-19 Safe Plan are being worked through addressing capacity management for transport, food & beverage outlets, accommodation, ski lifting and lessons to ensure we can operate safely.
“We are delighted to confirm Mt Buller Season Membership passes will be honoured this season.
“We are also able to confirm we will commence the season with private lessons available from the Ski & Snowboard School.
“While we finalise operational details and capacity limits there is a pause on the sale of lift tickets and lessons.
“We expect to resume the sale of online products after the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and will share an updated notification with you when they are available.
“The ‘new normal’ in 2020 will mean the full range of products and services may not all be offered as we adapt to the restrictions.”
Here is what it looks like in Mt Buller ahead of a possible June opening.
It will though be very different.
As an example there will be no international ski instructors, and likely few international visitors.
“There will be no international ski instructors — the Austrian ski instructors are part of the folklore of the ski industry in this country, said the resort general manager, Laurie Blampied, to ABC.
“Because of social distancing in staff accommodation we’ll have reduced numbers of staff that will mean that the range of services that we will be able to offer will be reduced significantly.”
The ski season in New Zealand is also starting at the end of June as covid-19 restrictions have been eased:
Resorts across the world will be watching both New Zealand and Australia with interest.
Partly to see the details of the measures put in place, but also to see if the exercise can be economically viable.
It costs large amounts of money to run a ski resort.
But with reduced number in the resorts and on the slopes, plus drops in revenue from restaurants, bars and shops plus events, some analysts worry if they will be able to operate.
Some feel local skiers and snowboarders may come for the novelty value to see what it is like, but then not return as the experience will be so different.
Australia has done well in battling the pandemic with 7,1o6 confirmed cases and 102 deaths.
It closed its international borders to all but essential visitors at a very early stage, and this in unlikely to be lifted so there will be limited international skiers and snowboarders.
Here at PlanetSKI we’ll keep you posted on developments Down Under.
PlanetSKI visited the ski resorts in Australia and New Zealand back in 2018.
Check out our reports here:
PlanetSKI hit the resorts of Perisher, Mount Buller & Thredbo: