Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown
French President Emmanuel Macron’s exclusion of ski resorts ‘felt like the door had been slammed in our faces,’ said the mayor of Megeve. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 27 November 2020

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown
  • Frustrated resort operators count the cost of holiday season restrictions

MEGEVE, France:  Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased.

But France’s government — while allowing cinemas, museums and theaters to reopen from Dec. 15 — says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.

“When you’re outside, when you’re doing sport outdoors, that’s not the moment when you’re going to give COVID-19 to someone. COVID-19 is passed on in enclosed places,” said Pierre de Monvallier, director of ski school Oxygene, which operates in several resorts including Megeve.

Announcing a phased easing of the lockdown on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “impossible to envisage” re-opening ski slopes for Christmas and New Year, and that he preferred instead to do so during January.

“It felt like the door had been slammed in our face,” said Catherine Jullien-Breches, the mayor of Megeve, whose green slopes are generally covered with snow by mid-December.

“Unfortunately it’s a real drama for the economies of the villages and the winter sports resorts.”

People who live within 20 km of France’s Alpine resorts will able to visit from this weekend, but with the lifts staying shut, the main draw is missing.

“It’s like going on holiday on the Cote d’Azur and being told the sea is off limits,” said David Le Scouarnec, co-owner of Megeve’s Cafe 2 la Poste.

The problem for the resorts — and the hotels, restaurants, and workers who depend on them for their livelihood — is that their season is short, and they will have little time after the New Year to claw back lost revenue.

Other European authorities are wrestling with the same problem. Italy’s resorts regions are seeking approval for restricted skiing, but Austria, whose biggest cluster of the first wave of the pandemic was at the ski resort of Ischgl — where thousands were infected — is skeptical.

Prevarication cuts little ice, however, with Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars at Megeve and other resorts.

He said who could not understand why the government allowed trains and metros to operate, but barred him from re-opening. “It’s like we’re being punished. We don’t deserve this. We’re ready.”


EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries
Updated 20 min 28 sec ago

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries

EgyptAir reduces its ticket prices by 50% to European countries
  • Business class tickets discounted by 35%, and economy class tickets by 25%, with discounts applicable when purchasing tickets until Jan. 31
  • Tourism revenues in Egypt plummeted by more than 69% during the last year due largely to the coronavirus disease pandemic

CAIRO: EgyptAir has announced a 50 percent discount on economy and business class tickets between Cairo and a number of European destinations.

The company offered discounts on its flights between Cairo and Paris for travel from Jan. 24 to Jan. 29, between Cairo and Amsterdam for travel on Jan. 24, 27 and 29, Cairo and London from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29 and between Cairo and Frankfurt on Jan. 28.

The company announced the continuation of discounts on flights between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah and Al-Qassim.

Business class tickets are 35 percent off, and economy class tickets are 25 percent off, with discounts applicable when purchasing tickets until Jan. 31 and traveling until March 15, returning before March 31.

Last Thursday, the state-owned company began applying additional discounts to the price of fuel for the aviation sector, to reach 15 cents per gallon, in support of the tourism sector and to stimulate aviation.

Tourism revenues in Egypt plummeted by more than 69 percent during the last year due largely to the coronavirus disease pandemic, dropping to about $4 billion compared to more than $13 billion in 2019 due to the suspension of air traffic and travel worldwide, and the closure of borders between countries for several months.

Egypt announced an initiative to stimulate domestic tourism under the title “Winter in Egypt,” which relies on reducing the prices of domestic flight tickets.