Austria is now known to have been an initial epicenter for COVID-19 cases on the European landmass, specifically in the ski town/party destination of Ischgl regarded as the ‘Ibiza of the Alps.’ Over 2,500 cases have been linked back to a ski area which has now become the subject of a criminal investigation and the area has been on a demanding lockdown for six weeks. Now, to Ischgl’s good fortune, the curve is appearing to flatten and the town is easing quarantine restrictions. People are slowly re-emerging to a reminiscence of the normalcy of a pre-pandemic period, which is arguably great news. However, flattening the curve in Ischgl did not come without a price.
The month-and-a-half lockdown that arrested most of Austria’s economy crippled Ishgl’s industry which is heavily dominated by ski-tourism. Market research conducted by Austria’s Chamber of Commerce reveals that sales for Austria’s tourism sector may have dropped about 1.8 billion euros or 1.95 billion dollars during the time it was shut down. Snow Camps Europe said in a written statement regarding the massive blow to Austria’s resort economy:
“The abrupt end of the ski season in mid-March caused a huge drop in sales. According to a market research institute commissioned by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, it amounts to approximately 1.8 billion euros (~1.95B USD) Other sources calculate at least three times the sum. Especially the ski resorts that had planned a season until the end of April have been the worst affected.
Ski resorts would have surpassed all records this year. But in the end, there were 7 million fewer nights. 8.1 million fewer guests.
Even though the development and investment in the area of Kaprun is still moving forward and later this week we hope to bring you our latest VLOG outlining the major developments that are underway.”
Although quarantine-measures may be helping to defeat the coronavirus, they have disruptive and widespread implications for an economy whose gears aren’t turning while they are in effect. At this time it remains unclear just how long-lasting the economic toll from the complete shut down of Austrian’s tourism industry will be. Yet, regardless of the damage done, Ischgl will continue to reawaken its economy, taking a step towards bouncing back.