SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

HOLIDAY

Will summer holidays be possible this year in Austria?

A recent survey by the German institute for tourism found 79 percent of Austrians are planning a summer holiday, with holidays in Austria particularly in demand. But how could holidays look in summer 2021?

Will summer holidays be possible this year in Austria?
Photo: AFP

The situation now

At present, all hotels and restaurants are closed in Austria until at least Easter, which takes place on the first weekend in April. In addition, it is quite difficult to travel in or out of Austria.

It is difficult for people arriving from most countries outside the EU to enter Austria unless they are resident here. 

People arriving to Austria from within the EU must present a recent negative PCR or antigen test and go into quarantine for ten days. The quarantine can be shortened to five days with a negative test. 

How could summer holidays in Austria be possible this year? 

Austria and Greece are calling for Europe to adopt a “vaccine passport” which can show test or vaccine data, allowing people to travel this summer. The idea of such a document would be to permit those who have been vaccinated to travel freely within the EU.

Within Austria the passports – based on a similar model in Israel – would entitle people who had been fully vaccinated to use their passports as proof when visiting bars and restaurants, going to gyms or attending events. 

EU leaders said in February that a draft of the arrangement will be made available in March, although the actual passport is not expected to be released until later. 

Will people from other countries be able to come to Austria for a summer holiday? 

Hopefully it will be possible for people from other countries to come to Austria for a summer holiday. German tourists are particularly important for Austria’s tourist economy. Normally five to six million German visitors come to neighbouring Austria on holiday every year. 

Will people living in Austria be able to travel abroad for a summer holiday? 

It all depends on a number of factors: the success of the vaccination campaign in the next few months, the course of the pandemic and whether a vaccine or testing passport can be made to work.

On Friday EU states agreed to aim to establish a vaccine passport system by early summer.

However, there has been no agreement on the advantages such a passport would offer. Meanwhile, Austria’s vaccination campaign has started to gather pace.

As of Monday more than 650,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine have been given, with more than a quarter of the entire number of doses injected last week between Tuesday and Friday.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

ECONOMY

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Austria’s lucrative winter season has already been hit by pandemic restrictions for the past two years. But this year there is also record inflation, staff shortages and an energy crisis to deal with.

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria's winter season

The winter season in Austria is a big driver of the country’s economy and has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions for the past two winters.

But this year the industry faces an even bigger crisis – a combination of rising inflation, concerns over energy supplies, staff shortages and the pandemic (because it’s not over yet).

We took a closer look to find out how these issues could impact the industry and what we could expect from this year’s winter season in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Why is Wien Energie asking for €6 billion from the Austrian government?

Inflation

Winter sports is a big guzzler of energy to operate ski lifts, apres ski venues and snow making machines. 

This means the industry is in a vulnerable position as energy prices rise, with some resort operators already confirming they will have to pass on some costs to customers.

Johann Roth, Managing Director at Präbichl in Styria, said that energy costs at the resort have tripled and admitted he is concerned about the coming winter season.

Roth told the Kronen Zeitung: “Of course we will have to increase the ticket prices, and to an extent that has never been seen in recent years.”

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

At Planai ski resort in Schladming, Styria, Director Georg Bliem said they aim to keep the day ticket price under €70, but has also set up an energy task force to find cost-saving measures for this year. 

Suggestions for Planai include narrower slopes, reduced snowmaking capabilities, shorter cable car operating times and even a delayed start to the season.

Electricity costs at Planaibahn (the resort’s ski lift and gondola operator) were already at €3 million before the current energy crisis, according to the Kronen Zeitung.

Then there are hospitality businesses and hotels at ski resorts that are also being hit by rising costs.

As a result, the Kurier reports that room prices in overnight accommodation could increase by a further 15 percent in winter, and many people will no longer be able to afford skiing holidays.

Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)

Energy

Rising prices are just one element of the energy crisis as there are fears that Austria will not have enough gas for the coming winter season – mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Austria activated the early warning system – which is the first level of a three-step emergency plan – for the country’s gas supply. If it reaches step three (emergency level), energy control measures will be put in place across the country.

FOR MEMBERS: When will Austria make the €500 anti-inflation payment and how do I get it?

How this would impact ski resorts is unknown, but at the emergency level, households, essential industries and infrastructure would be prioritised for energy.

So far, there is no indication that step two (alert level) will be activated and the European Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory recently confirmed that Austria’s gas storage capacity was 60 percent full

Austria’s goal is to reach 80 percent capacity by November 1st in order to have a safety reserve.

However, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler already appealed to businesses and households in July to start saving energy where possible.

Staff shortages

Ever since Austria (and Europe) started opening up after Covid-19 lockdowns, the hospitality and tourism industries have been struggling to find staff.

In fact, shortly before the start of the summer season in Austria, there were 30,000 open job vacancies in the tourism sector. And the Wiener Zeitung recently reported on how restaurants in Vienna are struggling to keep up with customer demand due to staff shortages. 

READ NEXT: ‘We need immigration’: Austrian minister insists foreign workers are the only solution

The issue is even being discussed in parliament and it has already been made easier for seasonal workers in Austria to access residency through changes to the Red-White-Red card. 

Now, there are expectations of similar staff shortages for the winter season, which could cause further stress for ski resort operators.

Covid-19

Back in July, it was reported that the federal government was working on a Covid-19 contingency plan to get the country through another autumn and winter.

It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best scenario, the situation will remain as it is (find out more about Austria’s latest Covid-19 rules here).

In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.

READ MORE: REVEALED: The Covid-19 measures for the start of the Austrian school year

There could even be night-time curfews, entry tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.

Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.

From what we’ve seen over the past two winters, scenarios three and four would likely impact winter sports operations. But to what degree would depend on the severity of the situation.

SHOW COMMENTS