Adapting with the Times: How Ski Areas are Coping with COVID-19
While 2020 was challenging in many ways, the toll that COVID-19 took on our societies, our businesses, and our collective sense of safety was one of the most difficult burdens to bear. In Europe, ski areas were shut down, with some even blamed for the spread of the Coronavirus. Important revenue was lost, not just for the ski areas affected, but for the small mountain towns and industries that rely on them. By August of 2020, the tourism industry had recorded a $1 trillion loss.
This year saw many changes, and ski areas around the world have now adapted to the threat of COVID-19. Many will open to the winter season of 2020/2021 with new safety measures, such as increased distancing measures in parking and gathering areas, one-way traffic through rental shops, outside-only eating areas and bar access, and (in some places) a ban on helmet rental.
While these new measures will frustrate some guests, ski areas are doing what is required to keep visitors safe and enjoying the best possible experience.
Many of the ski areas that normally welcome summer business were pleasantly surprised this year with the increased number of biking and hiking tourists. While the official 2020 reports will not be available until next year, ski areas that invested in summer activities benefitted from the ease in lockdowns from June-September.
In Europe particularly, there was a significant rise in bike sales during the COVID lockdowns, to the extend that bike store owners are now complaining about depleted inventory and long wait times from Taiwanese suppliers. In short, biking, hiking, and mountain tourism are responsible ways to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining recommended social distancing practices, and consumers have taken advantage of this opportunity.
After months of enduring isolation and anxiety, with many winter vacations canceled, consumers flocked to the mountains during the summer of 2020, and ski areas that invested in safety measures and distance-friendly attractions were some of the big winners in a very troubled industry.
In 2021, the summer may play an even a larger role in ski area profits. Attractions such as bikes, hiking trails, and unique rental vehicles such as Gravity Coaster products is a vital way for resorts to earn income in all seasons, and welcome visitors during difficult times. Products that allow visitors to enjoy the mountain scenery while social distancing makes tourism safer for both ski areas and their visitors. We hope to see more of this trend in the years to come.