Increased energy costs and inflation do not stop at ski resorts. They are reacting with different measures that are not only noticeable in the wallets of winter tourists.
Making snow on slopes, running lifts: running a ski area consumes a lot of energy - and the prices for it have risen enormously. Then there is the strong inflation. This has repercussions: If you summarize the announcements made by cable car operators in the past few weeks, skiers will feel this in their wallets in many places and sometimes also on the lifts in the coming winter season.
There's the purse: Many areas have announced strong price increases. It is often around ten percent, sometimes more. As a result, classic six-day ski passes sometimes cost around 30 euros more than in the previous season, and the price increases are also noticeable for day passes.
Two examples: In Sudelfeld, Bavaria, it costs 48 euros for adults instead of the previous 42 euros - that's a good 14 percent plus compared to the 2021/2022 season. In the large Austrian ski area of St. Anton am Arlberg it is 67 instead of 61 euros.
A ski holiday could cost more, not just because of the tickets: Compared to the previous season, prices have also increased in hotels, in supermarkets (for self-catering) and at the gas pump.
Some resorts offer savings potential for early bookers: For example, the Tyrolean ski area of Sölden promises a discount of up to 22 percent for online tickets purchased in advance. The prices on the Internet are not fixed, but "depending on the date of purchase and demand". Dynamic prices, that's what the operators like to call it. The Vorarlberg ski area Silvretta Montafon is also introducing something like this and announces that early bookers should benefit.
In the large Ski amadé network in Salzburger Land and Styria, there is also an early bird discount from this winter season. The 6-day pass should be up to 50 euros cheaper. However, it is unclear up until when the discount will be available - also because there are only certain contingents for the cheaper online tickets.
In general, the dynamic price models lack transparency. One thing can be said for sure: if you have already booked a hotel or holiday home in the region, you can hardly go wrong with early booking of ski passes. To be on the safe side, you should check the cancellation conditions beforehand so that you don't have to bear the cost of the tickets if your holiday does not go through.
In order to save energy, various operators are also planning to make small cuts in terms of comfort and services. For example, by turning off the heated seats or slowing down the lifts. Or do without night skiing. Here are some examples as well:
- On the Feldberg in the Black Forest, the 14 lifts should no longer run at the same time, but depending on the number of visitors. According to the association, the entire slope area can also be covered with half of the facilities without any loss of quality.
- According to an ORF report, the Salzburg cable car industry, which includes areas such as Saalbach-Hinterglemm, initially wants to switch off seat heating on chairlifts and gondolas. Night skiing is to be canceled and the facilities run more slowly if necessary.
Cable car spokesman Erich Egger sees no loss of comfort: "We reduce the speed by 20 percent. Then the guest sits a little longer on the lift," he told ORF. That's half a minute or a minute, no longer. The quality of the stay is not spoiled, but it is a good power-saving effect.
The Association of German Cable Cars and Drag Lifts (VDS) is also trying to dispel concerns. The guests can rest assured that they will find “top conditions in the German ski areas again this winter,” says VDS board member Henrik Volpert. The areas will therefore do everything they can to save energy without "noticeably spoiling" the guest experience.
Saving energy and resources is an ongoing issue in times of climate change, which is why ski areas have been in focus for a long time. But the current measures should be separated from this motive, says Maximilian Witting, who researches the effects of climate change on winter tourism at the LMU Munich. The reduction of energy consumption in many areas is heavily cost-driven. "It was born out of necessity and is casual - there is no long-term, substantial strategy behind it."
Witting says that drastic changes with a view to sustainability and climate protection cannot be made in ski resorts from one year to the next. "This is a process in which all local actors are involved and which runs for several years. In addition, it takes time for the image of an area to adapt accordingly."
In addition to concrete climate protection measures in the areas, according to Witting, every guest can also make a major contribution to reducing emissions. The main part - 70 to 80 percent - of the CO2 footprint of a winter trip is caused by the arrival and departure. Switching to the train, for example, is more climate-friendly.
In order to make traveling by train more attractive for guests, the ski areas are also in demand. For example, by driving more ski buses there. And above all, says Witting, by working with the nearest train stations and with the railway companies - in particular, to simplify luggage transport, for example.
Some destinations are creating incentives to get more winter sports enthusiasts coming from the motorway onto the rails: Switzerland Tourism, for example, has launched the "ride
Another example comes from southern Germany: The Bavarian Regiobahn (BRB) is also selling combination tickets this season. This includes the train journey from a train station in the BRB network area (which also includes Munich), the bus journey from the destination train station to the ski area and the lift pass. The ski areas Brauneck, Sudelfeld and Spitzingsee - Tegernsee are included.