Swiss Tourism Boss Claims Keeping Resorts Open Was Good Decision – Not All Agree
24th February 2021
Last modified on February 26th, 2021
Martin Nydegger has said in an interview that so far this winter there have been no big outbreaks of Covid-19 and no serious damage to Switzerland’s reputation. Not everyone agrees with him with Italy blaming Switzerland for spreading variant viruses to other countries.
The head of the Switzerland Tourism organisation told the CH-Media group that protective measures put in place have worked and localised outbreaks of the virus have been restricted to individual hotels and quickly brought under control.
“There were no big outbreaks, no ski resort became a hotspot, there was no major reputational damage for Switzerland – none of these fears materialised,” he said.
Switzerland is one of the few European countries to have opened its lifts fully to the public, starting the season as usual in December.
The decision to open was seen as controversial and criticised by some neighbouring countries who were banned by their governments from opening the lifts.
“At some point the criticism coming from abroad fell away,” Martin Nydegger said in the interview.
He said some people in countries such as France and Austria – where the snowsports industry has been hit hard by closures – believed, in retrospect, that they could have opted to follow Switzerland’s lead.
It’s not what the neighbouring alpine nations have been saying publicly.
The head of the Italian government’s coronavirus task force went so far as to blame Switzerland for the introduction of a newly highly-infectious variant of Covid-19 to continental Europe as it allowed UK citizens into its ski resorts.
“The country that brought the British variant to Europe is Switzerland,” Walter Ricciardi told Italian TV on Sunday.
He said Italian experts had traced the strains of the virus, which established that the mutated strain had arrived in Switzerland and then spread through Europe.
Verbier and other Swiss ski resorts have also been under the spotlight.
- Reaction as 100s of UK Skiers Reported to Have Fled Quarantine in Verbier
- Swiss Ski Lift Operator Sacked for Revealing Poor Coronavirus Compliance
- Huge Queues for Verbier Lift
Some in Austria have blamed Switzerland for the surge in the South African variant in the Tirol, though there is no evidence for this.
Wengen saw an outbreak of Covid-19 that led to the Lauberhorn World Cup race being cancelled. It’s the biggest event of the year for the resort and the most prominent ski race in the Swiss snowsports calendar.
The outbreak in Wengen was traced back to a Briton who had visited the ski resort.
Switzerland has seen many more cases and deaths from Covid-19 in the country’s second wave and some claim ski resorts played a part in this situation.
On Wednesday 24th February the Swiss Federal government announced plans for the easing of some restrictions.