What tourists in Illinois scream

Catastrophe threatens winter tourism

It was expected and it hits the tourism industry to the core. Germany has announced that after Vienna, Vorarlberg and Tyrol, all other federal states with the exception of Carinthia will be on the red list from Saturday. The Netherlands are also extending their travel warning. Only Carinthia, Styria and Burgenland are seen as unproblematic.

"The travel warnings are a catastrophe for tourism. If they persist and people do not travel from Germany to Tyrol or Salzburg, we can forget every second overnight stay," says the tourism expert at the Economic Research Institute (Wifo), Oliver Fritz. Should Dutch guests also stay away, the second largest group of guests after the Germans in winter, almost two thirds of the holidaymakers could be absent.

Ischgl is lagging behind

Even if the number of infections drops and the travel warnings are lifted before Christmas, the situation for the industry is more than difficult. "For vacationers, the uncertainty remains as to whether the travel warning will not come back. The events in Ischgl and the mismanagement upon departure are still present to many," says Fritz.

In contrast to summer, the gap with domestic tourists cannot be remotely closed in winter. "If you haven't been skiing in the past few years, you won't do that this year either. And only a few will decide to ski because they can't go to Mallorca. In addition, locals are also afraid of being infected. Without rapid relief measures on the part of the Government, many tourism companies will not survive the crisis. City hotels in Vienna anyway, but probably neither hotels in other regions. "

What is changing

For people who come to Germany from risk areas, one is currently valid 14-day quarantine. This can currently be shortened by a negative corona test. From November 8th there will be different rules: Then a ten-day quarantine will apply and you will only be able to be "free-tested" on the fifth day.

The Netherlands write an on entry or return from "orange" areas ten day home quarantine which cannot be reversed with a negative PCR test before or after arrival in the Netherlands. Transit travelers are exempt from the quarantine requirement. However, even a stop to refuel or a trip to the rest area toilet counts as a stay in the risk area.

The tourism industry in particular reacted with great concern to the latest developments, and DER STANDARD asked the experts.

Only stricter measures would work

When asked whether winter tourism in 2020/21 can still be saved, the Simulation researcher Nikolas Popper no clear answer. It is obvious to him that, for example, German and other international guests will probably stay away because of the travel warning due to the relatively high number of infections in Austria. For Popper, with the current measures, which only prevent a rapid further increase in the number of infections, from today's perspective in some regions it is difficult or even impossible to get below 50 cases per 100,000.

But is there no longer any chance in Austria of being switched from "red" to "green" again? That could only achieve stronger measures, says Popper, who emphasizes the importance of tracing and testing, but also sees regional options: "According to our new model calculations for federal states, a variant would be at district level with a 14-day quasi-lockdown including school closings and mandatory Home office bring the numbers back down significantly. " However, the prerequisite for success is that these measures are supported by the population in a binding manner.

Derailed again

The Tropical and travel medicine specialist Herwig Kollaritsch expresses concern about domestic winter tourism. However, he admits that there will still be some time until the start of the season to get a better grip on developments. "Usually we don't talk about winter tourism in mid-October, so something can still change," he says. If that succeeds, a "light winter tourism" is quite conceivable. If the number of infections continues to rise rapidly, there will soon be "real problems".

Because: "Especially in winter we find ourselves in an epidemiologically unfavorable situation," emphasizes the expert and points out that the population has not taken this seriously enough in recent months. "We had it under control, and now it is derailing us again," says Kollaritsch. In his opinion readjustment would have been necessary. "But we haven't," he explains. Since this time the clusters are to be found in families and not among travelers returning, the number cannot be reduced as much this time as in the summer. Kollaritsch: "The most important thing is that we don't hit the wall with contact tracing, as in the Czech Republic. That would be devastating. Every individual is challenged."

Develop something new

The Environmental doctor Hans-Peter Hutter had contact with some responsible persons in winter sports resorts before the opening of the ski season. He advised her on how to organize the tourist traffic, for example when queuing or in the cable car cabins, in such a way that there was no infection. He was all the more shocked when he saw the pictures and films from the Kaprun glacier lifts on Wednesday: "That did a lot of damage to many of these good efforts and thus also to the external impact of winter tourism," says Hutter.

He is trying to get something positive out of the foreseeable crisis: Perhaps this winter could be used to think about completely new concepts instead of the previous après-ski, which is unthinkable in the Corona times. The sports-loving environmental doctor thinks little of the "Ballermann in the Alps".

This means that a lot of sales can be made quickly, but it is certainly not sustainable. "Perhaps additional money should be made available for this in order to develop something really new and forward-looking for the time after the crisis." (Julia Palmai, Günther Strobl, Klaus Taschwer, Gianluca Wallisch, October 23, 2020)

To the people

Nikolas Popper is a simulation expert at the Vienna University of Technology. He studied mathematics, philosophy and jazz theory in Vienna, Barcelona and Moscow, among others. He advises the government on the corona measures.

Oliver Fritz studied economics in Graz and completed his master's degree at the University of Illinois. Fritz has been working at the Economic Research Institute (Wifo) since 2001. His research focus is tourism.

Herwig Kollaritsch is a specialist in specific prophylaxis and tropical medicine as well as hygiene and microbiology and a member of the Corona task force.

Hans-Peter Hutter studied landscape ecology and landscape design as well as medicine. He is deputy head of the Department for Environmental Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at MedUni Vienna.

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