Ischgl Set To Try To Change Its Image
26th April 2020 | James Cove, PlanetSKI editor
Last modified on May 15th, 2021
The resort wants to move away from “party tourism” after it suffered Austria’s biggest cluster of coronavirus. Its international reputation has been damaged as some accuse it of spreading covid-19 to many other countries in Europe.
“We will question developments of the past years and, where necessary, make corrections,” said the mayor of Ischgl, Werner Kurz.
He said he wanted things to change, in particular that it is just seen as an apres ski and party destination.
He said he would work with local businesses to make changes.
“That means more quality and less party tourism, prioritising skiers and fewer day-trippers on buses who only come to party,” the local tourism authority said.
“We are also thinking with all businesses about what an upmarket apres-ski culture can look like.”
The resort was finally taken out of quarratine last Thursday, that was imposed in the middle of March.
Here at PlanetSKI we have always regarded Ischgl, and its surrounding area, as far more than an apres ski hotspot.
It has some very good skiing that is often overlooked.
And we have enjoyed it in the summer too, when the apres ski is but a distant memory.
Ischgl has, perhaps unfairly in our view, been singled out with the brush of helping to spread coronavirus.
- 1,800 covid-19 cases linked to Ischgl
- Ischgl responds to criticism over its handling of coroanvirus
- Legal action threatened over coronavirus spread from Austrian ski resort
- Ischgl and St Anton remain in quarantine
Similar things were happening in other ski areas from Vail and Park City in the USA to Verbier in Switzerland.
There were many others in between.
France allowed 30,000 UK skiers and snowboarders to travel on Saturday March 14th and then at 7PM that same day closed the resorts.
They were seen as, along with other places in France, likely venues for coronavirus to spread.
But they have not received the attention of the international press as ‘the Ischgl story’ has been covered by the likes of CNN, the BBC and Der Spiegel.
Earlier this month the resort responded to the criticism.
“We have been massively criticised for the corona pandemic since the early end of the season,” said a statement from the resort.
“The corona virus has put us in an unprecedented exceptional situation. In the past few weeks, we have implemented all the necessary measures step by step.
“Despite our efforts, many have been infected with the virus on site – we wish all those affected all the best and a speedy recovery.
“Like the rest of the world, we now have more answers and experience than we did 6 weeks ago – we want to learn from this for the future.”
So, what exactly happened in Ischgl?
It was originally thought the first reported case in Ischgl was on March 7th – a German barman at the Kitzloch apres ski bar in the centre of town.
However subsequent investigations have claimed that the first reported case was a Swiss waitress at the same bar on March 5th.
On March 10th the resort closed all its main apres ski venues.
On March 11th the resort said it was closing for 2-weeks.
On March 12th it said it was closing for the rest of the season after the Provincial government all rski esorts to shut.
However, on March 4th Iceland warned the resort some of its citizens had come back from the resort and developed Covid-19.
On March 5th Iceland warned its citizens not to travel to the resort.
The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety said the first case was believed to have been an Austrian waitress in Ischgl who started showing symptoms on 8th February.
However the authorities in Tirol dispute this: “This information is demonstrably non-factual.”
It points out that her test was done retrospectively in March.
The resort now want to try to move its image to an upmarket and more sophisticated offering.
It has tried to do so in the past, but with little success.
For the season of 2016/17 it tried to introduce a ban on people wearing ski gear after 8PM
“We would like to inform you that from November 20th to May 5th walking in hard-soled footwear (eg ski boots or similar plastic soles) and carrying skis, ski sticks or snowboards will be prohibited on all of the routes and squares in the centre of Ischgl between the evening and night-time hours of 20:00 to 6:00,” said a statement from resort officials in November 2016.
Those who break the new rule could be fined up to €2,000.
We reported on it at the time:
It didn’t work.
Many guests come for its apres ski and reputation as a party town, if that changes they might simply go elsewhere.
The hotels, bars, restaurant and lift company will not be happy with that.
It will be interesting to see exactly what initiatives the resort makes or whether it is just a marketing and PR move.
It clearly has much work to be done to restore its reputation.
There has been some reaction over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page. Feel free to add your thoughts.
Mark Young Ski resorts will recover just like many businesses. The resorts are popular because of the ski areas and snow reliability. The concern is how quickly can countries allow mixing in bars and restaurants where it’s virtually impossible to keep a distance.
Phil Kelly I think many Austria resorts let themselves down, they offer incredible skiing but people are deterred by the rowdyism, thinking Ischgl, Saalbach, St Anton. To me, skiing is a sport, it doesn’t mix with alcohol any more than running a marathon does.
Judith Schmid Phil Kelly I can only speak for St. Anton here, but all the partying has never bothered me. You can very easily opt out of it, stay in a quieter part of town, enjoy the incredible skiing it has to offer and good food in normal restaurants that don’t play to the party crowd. In my view St. Anton is just as great for families and people with snow in their veins as it (presumably) is for the party crowds.
Cristina Baker Thank you for pointing out the problems with other areas like Vail and France. I think France acted significantly more irresponsible because it allow all those people arrive on the 14 th. I was at Geneva airport. The people I met were all concerned about being there because they knew France would shut in a matter of days. As it turned out, it was a matter of hours.
Ian Strong Cristina Baker Yup we were the same in Alpe d’Huez, dinner out and home the next day. French haven’t got a clue frankly.
Ryan TG Lewis Which idiots are accusing it of spreading Covid in Europe? One country is to blame for this and should pay for this. China.