Ischgl Sets Out to Rebuild Image & Reputation After Covid-19
7th September 2020
The Austrian resort has become a byword for a ski resort that spread coronavirus. Many others likely did similar, but the mud seems to have stuck on Ischgl. The resort has unveiled its plans for next winter. UPDATED
Resort officials have presented their plans in some detail.
There will be social distancing and hygiene measures that are currently required by rules set down by the province and central government.
“Health is the top priority,” said Mayor Werner Kurz.
“We want the focus to be on nature and our extensive top ski resort which extends right into Samnaun in Switzerland.”
The first day of skiing will take place on 26th November 2020 as planned.
However, there will be no traditional Opening Concert and the start of the season will be a more subdued affair.
The crowded apres ski bars are set to be a thing of the past.
“There will be no apres ski in its usual form,” said the resort.
Ski lifts will operate with social distancing and passengers will be required to wear masks.
The cabins will be disinfected with a special device on the main lifts.
“It is our core concern to ensure the highest possible safety levels in the ski resort by implementing appropriate health and hygiene measures,” said Günther Zangerl of the Ischgl lift company Silvrettaseilbahn AG.
“The measures are in line with the current legal regulations but also to a large extent go significantly beyond these minimum requirements.”
Other measures include testing all local service staff at the start, and during, the season.
Visitors will be encouraged to present a negative test result on arrival, or take a free test after check-in.
People will also get a free ski buff.
Back in July we looked at what apres ski may look like across the Alps and our thoughts seem to be coming true, What may Apres ski look like next season?
The apres ski bars in Ischgl are seen as the main spreader of covid-19 with the first outbreaks traced to the Kitzloch Bar.
All bars and restaurants will have to close for 30 minutes from 6.30pm to allow for airing and disinfecting, before the evening activities commence.
“We have learned from the past and created a health management system that goes far beyond the official requirements in order to be able to guarantee the safety and health of our many guests from all over the world as well as for the employees and locals,” said the resort in a statement.
“We are putting all our efforts into becoming one of the safest winter destinations. Health and safety are a top priority in the Paznaun-Ischgl region.”
Sewage testing will take place in collaboration with the Tyrolean state government and University of Innsbruck.
This will enable any potential infection to be identified at an early stage with a high level of accuracy.
There will be specially trained Corona safety officials to ensure that the latest regulations are being followed and implemented.
Here is the advice for people in the bars, hotels and restaurants:
· Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from other people outside your own group
· Mouth and nose protection recommended for crowds
· Pay contactless if possible. Pay the bill preferably by card
· Follow the instructions of the employees
· Avoid shaking hands and hugs
· Wash hands several times a day with soap and water for at least 30 seconds
· Avoid contact on the face with uncleaned hands
· Sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm or into a handkerchief.
· Stay home if you feel sick
Our editor, James Cove, assesses the situation ahead for Ischgl
Make no mistake about it, Ischgl has a mountain to climb to restore its position and there are significant risks along the way.
Its reputation, rightly or wrongly, has been severely damaged with legal cases and accusations that it put profit before the safety of its guests.
Let alone that it helped spread the deadly coronavirus across large parts of Europe by its failure to act as Covid-19 broke out in its bars.
Something it strenuously denies.
Whatever the truth its business model is based on the hard skiing and hard partying crowd of Europe, in particular the Germans and the Scandinavians, plus the British.
“Relax…. If you can” has been its strap line and excuse for excesses.
These excesses must now go and with it the huge amounts of money they generate.
Ischgl undoubtedly made some errors of judgement with the benefit of hindsight, but likely so did other resorts in the Tirol (St Anton and Soelden), and other resorts beyond.
France’s actions are highly questionable as it invited the everyone in on Saturday 14th March and by 7PM told them all to go back to their home country.
Undoubtedly it helped spread the virus across Europe and this was dozens and dozens of resorts, not just a single one.
However, seeing Ischgl as just a rowdy party resort – “Ibiza on Ice” as the tabloids like to call it – rather misses the point.
If you prefer your skiing and snowboarding ahead of apres ski and getting drunk that is.
It has one of the best lift systems in the Alps and its slopes are somewhat under-rated in our opinion.
It lacks some seriously steep blacks, but its groomed pistes are second to none and the long linking run to Switzerland is missed by many to their cost.
Its runs down to the village are perhaps too steep for many intermediates, and crowded at the end of the day.
No matter. Overall its skiing is fabulous with some great mountain restaurants and superb alpine views.
We will be visiting next winter and look forward to reporting back on how the resort may change.
Some may say for the better.
The resort itself has been trying, with limited success, to change its image for some time.
In 2016 it banned ski boots on the streets after 8PM with people facing a €2,000 fine.
It wants the richer and less boisterous crowd who prefer to spend money in restaurants rather than bars.
The resort will be sticking to government rules – as will all the other resorts, so expect to see very similar measures in all the other ski resorts in Austria and beyond.
Ischgl may have a mountain to climb, but therein hands its route back to recovery.
PlanetSKI’s recent visits to Ischgl:
See here for the full details of Ischgl’s Covid-19 policy