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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

What to expect from the ski season in Austria this winter

Skiers in Austria should expect to pay higher prices this winter as resorts are hit by rising costs. Many ski operators are also considering energy-saving actions. Here's how expensive it could get and which Covid measures could return.

What to expect from the ski season in Austria this winter
The ski season in Austria this winter will be more expensive than usual. (Photo by Volker Meyer / Pexels)

After three winter seasons impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, Austrian resorts were hoping for a return to “normal” this year.

Instead, resorts are being hit by rising energy bills and high inflation – just like everyone else across the country – leading to some tough financial decisions.

So what does this mean for the coming winter season in Austria? 

The Local took a closer look at the cost of ski passes and hotels, as well as whether resorts will be able to use snow making machines.

READ MORE: Discover Austria: How to make the most of 24 hours in Innsbruck

Hotels

The cost of staying in a hotel at a ski resort will be around 20 percent more this winter, reports Kurier.

Susanne Kraus-Winkler, Secretary of State for Tourism, thinks most ski tourists will simply “tolerate” the higher prices and continue to go skiing.

But Walter Veit, President of the Austrian Hoteliers’ Association, predicts that many people will not be able to afford a skiing holiday this winter due to the higher cost.

The increase in prices at hotels is mostly due to rising energy and food bills in Austria, with some businesses already paying three times more for energy than last year.

This was highlighted at the opening of the inaugural Vorarlberg Tourism Week on October 10th when it was revealed that hoteliers in the province are increasing their rates by 15 percent, reports ORF.

FOR MEMBERS: 29 ways to save money in Austria (but still have fun)

Heike Ladurner-Strolz from the Austrian Hotel Association (ÖHV) said: “You have to think very carefully about how much of the price increases you can pass on to the guest because we can’t pass on 100 percent.

“It’s a tightrope walk. I think it will be more difficult in the three or four-star range than in a small private guesthouse because you have a different audience there who have to watch their money more at home.”

However, Kraus-Winkler, who was also in attendance at Vorarlberg Tourism Week, said many regular guests are already making bookings for the coming ski season.

A ski holiday will be considerably more expensive in Austria this year. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Ski passes

Skiers and snowboarders should expect to pay around eight percent more for a ski pass in Tyrol and Carinthia this year. In Salzburg, it could increase by up to 11 percent.

Here’s a quick overview of the some of the ticket prices that have been announced for this year:

  • A day ticket at the Mölltal Glacier in Carinthia is expected to cost €59 this year.
  • The Kitzbühel season ticket is €743 for the 2022/2023 winter season.
  • A peak season day ticket (December 24th to March 17th) in St Johann in Tirol is €53.
  • A day ticket at the Stubai Glacier in Innsbruck is €57.80.
  • A day ticket in the Schladming-Dachstein region of Salzburg is €58.

Tickets are cheaper during off-peak season, which is up to December 23rd and from mid-March 2023.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about finding work in Austrian towns and villages

Bars, cafes and restaurants

In August, producer prices were 21 percent more than the same time last year, reports Der Standard.

And in a recent report by Gastro (a gastronomy trade publication), suppliers say they are expecting further price increases for certain foods this winter.

Tomatoes, beans, meat, dairy products and eggs are all forecast to rise in price, along with practical items like toilet paper and firewood.

As a result, some of these extra costs will be passed on to customers, which means higher prices on menus at alpine huts and restaurants this winter.

High prices in the gastronomy sector are already partly to blame for the current 10.5 percent inflation rate in Austria, with predictions that prices will continue to rise in the coming months.

Energy saving measures

Most ski business operators are aware that they can’t pass on all rising costs to customers this winter. So instead they are turning to cost-saving measures – especially when it comes to energy.

Solutions include switching off seat heating in lifts, using less lighting at stations and even stopping (or operating less) night skiing. The speed of cable cars could be reduced from midday or in the afternoon, and operators plan to use snow making machines more efficiently, reports news.at

However, most ski resort operators want to cause as minimal disruption to the customer experience as possible.

Additionally, many Austrian hoteliers are anticipating energy saving measures from the federal government, similar to Germany’s mandate of heating hotels to a maximum of 19 degrees. 

FOR MEMBERS: Discover Austria: 19 ways to make the most of autumn this year

Will there be enough snow?

At the Mölltal Glacier in Carinthia, the ski season usually starts in September. But this year it has been put back to October, with no set date yet on when it will open (although an opening party is planned for October 28th).

The main reason for the delay is the condition at the glacier, with ORF reporting that a large amount of ice was lost this summer due to warm weather. But rising energy bills are also playing a part as snow making has to be limited due to higher costs.

Snow making is a hot topic right now, as operators weigh up the cost of making artificial snow with the responsibility to provide a high standard of skiing facilities for guests. Although how much snow making will be needed won’t be known until closer to the start of the season.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Will Austria bring back face mask mandate to battle rising Covid cases?

(Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

What about Covid measures?

The pandemic has greatly affected winter season in Austria on previous years, but the country has very few measures still in place. There are no entry restrictions to Austria or to establishments in Austria and the authorities have said on several occasions that any strict measures such as a lockdown ruled out already.

Still, with infection and hospitalisations numbers rising, some measures might return. One that is expected to make a comeback sooner rather than later is the FFP2 mask mandate for indoor areas.

Will there be ski resort closures?

So far, closing ski resorts in Austria is off the menu and many operators say they are hesitant to even reduce services.

However, as explained above, skiing in Austria this winter could look slightly different due to energy saving measures, and will definitely cost more money.

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For members

ENERGY

How Austria plans to secure the food supply in the event of a blackout

The energy crisis and war in Ukraine have raised fears of blackouts in Austria this winter. While the risk is low, there are now plans in place to distribute food if the worst happens.

How Austria plans to secure the food supply in the event of a blackout

Grocery retailers in Austria have agreed on an emergency plan to secure the food supply to the nation in the event of blackout.

The agreement followed a meeting with Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) and Agriculture Minister Norbert Totschnig (ÖVP) on Tuesday (November 29), reports ORF.

FOR MEMBERS: Energy crisis: What to do in case of a power outage in Austria

A statement released following the meeting said: “As a system-critical infrastructure, the domestic food retail trade has a social responsibility to be prepared for emergencies and to be able to ensure the basic supply of the population even in the event of a blackout.”

What is the emergency plan for Austria’s food supply?

If Austria is hit by a widespread blackout, all grocery stores will close to protect the supplies.

On the second day, supermarkets will open from 10am to 3pm, but staff will hand out bags of fresh food at the front of the shops and customers will not be allowed to enter.

This will take place at Spar, Interspar, Maximarkt, Billa, Penny, ADEG, Sutterlüty, Hofer, Lidl, Nah- und Frisch, Unimarkt and M-Preis stores.

The bags will contain ready-made food, water, non-perishable bread and canned goods. Convenience products and candles will be sold for cash. Baby items and hygiene products will be available on request.

If a blackout extends to a third day, only dry food will be distributed.

Additionally, all Austrian households are advised to have a supply of food to last for 14 days, as well as around €100 in cash per family member.

READ MORE: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

How secure is Austria’s energy supply?

Austria is a country with a stable electricity supply – with most of the power coming from hydroelectric or wind power farms.

In 2020, hydropower accounted for 55 to 67 percent of the electricity generated in the Alpine country. The leading electricity companies operate around 130 hydropower plants, especially taking advantage of its mountainous location.

According to the country’s Climate and Energy Ministry, wind power accounted for 10 percent, while solar 4 percent. In total, around 80 percent of Austria’s electricity comes from renewables.

Vienna has one of the most secure supplies worldwide, according to the independent regulatory authority E-Control. Moreover, the current figures on the subject of security of supply show that the Viennese were only affected by a power failure for just under 18 minutes a year – an improvement from 2021.

The capital is also equipped with “black start-capable power plants”, which can start up independently without outside help – thus ensuring supply even if a prolonged widespread power blackout should occur in Europe.

The situation in the rest of the country is similar. But Viennese authorities have asked the federal government to enter into talks with the federal states to develop a national emergency plan. 

Emergency preparation guidelines for the general population include keeping a flashlight with working batteries in case of a power grid malfunction, keeping a battery-powered radio in your home and even having non-perishable food and potable water in the household.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are the chances of blackouts in Austria this winter?

Austria’s energy emergency system

Since March, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Austria has been at level 1 (the early warning level) of the alert system related to energy consumption.

However, due to the aggravated situation surrounding gas deliveries, the increasing number of cases of suspected sabotage of gas pipelines to Europe and the current developments relating to the Ukraine war, an alert level (level 2) could be expected for Austria.

Level 2 is declared if the gas situation deteriorates. At this stage, businesses are encouraged to use alternatives to natural gas whenever possible. 

Level 3 – the emergency level – is activated when gas can no longer be supplied and the current demand can no longer be met. Measures for industry, such as substituting natural gas with other energies as energy control measures, are to be put in place. 

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