This winter, Swiss tourists were at the rendezvous on the slopes of Valais and Vaud, compensating some of the foreign travelers, as they had done in summer. A godsend for small resorts. The largest, dependent on an international clientele, sometimes end up on the teeth.
In Valais, as in the rest of Switzerland, the decline in ski lift attendance is around 25%, says Valais-Wallis Promotion (VWP) director Damian Constantin. Indigenous tourism, which rose from 52% to more than 70%, was able to limit the damage without compensating for the non-arrival of foreigners. But the results are very disparate according to the stations, he adds.
It is above all the large estates geared towards a more international clientele, such as Zermatt, Verbier or the Portes du Soleil, which bear the brunt of the sanitary restrictions. “Our turnover and the number of passages are down by 25-30%”, indicates Enrique Caballero, president of the binational ski area located partly in Chablais.
The Portes du Soleil Suisse suffered from the closure of ski lifts on the French side but also of restaurants. “Skiers have preferred five-hour season tickets,” he adds.
Correct season in Villars
Villars (VD) draws a satisfactory assessment of this particular year. “We were very lucky to be able to stay open, and this until April 11. It’s a decent season which lasted four more weeks than last year, ”explained Christian Dubois, director of Télé Villars-Gryon-Les Diablerets.
The skiers were overwhelmingly Swiss, around 85%. Some French and Belgians also traveled to the Vaudois Alps. “We compensated with Swiss customers. Our customers told us that they were happy to be able to leave their homes, ”added Christian Dubois. To ensure compliance with Covid standards, between 400,000 and 450,000 francs have been invested. And 36 more people had to be hired.
Swiss tourists and the Magic Pass
Small resorts that mainly cater to Swiss customers have been able to reach 2018/2019 attendance, the last “normal” season, or even do better, explains Damian Constantin. As during last summer, the Swiss went to discover their country. Family destinations such as the Vallée de Conches or La Fouly-Champex-Lac were popular with tourists who were more seeking to escape the crowds and enjoy nature and space.
This is also the case for Anzère, which has had “a very good season”, explains Sébastien Travelletti, chairman of the board of Télé Anzère. “A miracle” of the Magic Pass which has put the Swiss back on skis for four years and “whose effects are welcome today during this pandemic”, underlines the one who is also vice-president of the administration of sesame which opens the doors of 40 ski resorts.
The partners of the Magic Pass recorded “a decrease of only 7.5% compared to last year”, had also communicated the cooperative in mid-March. For TéléAnzère, this decrease should be 1 to 2% of turnover compared to 2018/2019, emphasizing that the closure of restaurants did not have a significant impact.
Sébastien Travelletti wonders more about the rigorous aid that will be granted to the largest resorts affected by the lack of international customers when they “could nevertheless survive without”. The president sees in it “a kind of unfair competition” which will allow the big ones to set off again in front of the small ones who had to reinvent themselves a few years ago “without any gift from the authorities”, he summarizes.
Good reservations for Easter
For Easter, Damian Constantin is confident. “Reservations are very good in Valais. With open fields, the situation is much better than in 2020, when semi-containment put an end to the season, ”he adds. Snow and weather are also there.
Oriented full south, Anzère ends its season Monday evening. “The crowd is never profitable this week of vacation. Winter for the locals is over, ”says Sébastien Travelletti. The Portes du Soleil will finally close on April 11 in front of “the good booking rate announced by the hosts in the region”, notes Enrique Caballero.
By opening longer, those at high altitude such as Grimentz-Zinal or even Vercorin which are part of the Magic Pass also hope to be able to benefit from Vaud and Friborg customers, whose low and medium altitude resorts are about to close or have already done. “Everyone will weigh the interests,” concludes Damian Constantin.