Predicting the conditions for travelling to ski resorts for the winter season are like trying to win the lottery at the moment. We all cannot wait to pack the bags and make the pilgrimage to our favoured destination.
This winter is like nothing before as Covid-19 still has a vice like grip on travel restrictions. Masks, restrictions, quarantine, isolation, social distancing are the new normal when dealing with how to travel for this season currently. Currently is the key word here as the variables change on an almost daily basis
Whether you normally travel by plane, by train or drive to the snow, since 1 June 2020 when the borders across Europe closed down, the parameters for travel have been difficult to predict. While resorts are doing their best to ensure the local economy does not totally disappear, what can the winter sports traveller expect this winter?
Travelling by air is the most common method of travelling to the mountains for its speed. If wearing a mask is not an issue for you for he duration of the flight, then flights will pick up nearer the winter again. The flying experience will change, this there is no doubt. Planes will need to be cleaned after each flight and this will take time and also many airlines are doing mandatory temperature checks on those flying.
Inside the terminal contact with airline employees will also be minimised through face scanning and on device boarding cards. Has the Covid-19 pandemic given technology the opportunity to take a step forward, it could be asked?
Airlines it could be argued have been trying to squeeze as many seats on to the planes to optimise the capacity and this the profits and the pandemic has meant this has had to be reversed so that there is space between people. Do not expect this to last for long as the airlines look to try and recover costs.
While the sky has been bereft of flights for much of the summer, the news that the Eurostar ski train to Bourg St Maurice has been discontinued, may be a huge error. Travelling by train is probably the safest form of transport in the current climate according to renown travel blogger seat61.com. They claim that the risk of catching Covid-19 while on a train is less than one in 11,000.
With trains to all corners of Europe to go skiing maybe, this could be the year that alternative forms of travel take off? No restrictions to weight allowances, the ability to move about freely and helping the environment all weigh favourably in letting the train take the strain. Yes you still have to arrange transfer from the station up to your resort but generally the transfer is shorter than when flying.
In keeping with the family bubble concept, travelling by car or van to the slopes could still be the way forward. Yes journeys are long and tiresome if only one person is driving but keeping the family bubble tight will have its benefits. Shuttles and ferries are still running but the issue of testing for Covid does raise its head and may deter many from using this form of travel.
If you are travelling by car be aware that you will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) on return with Le Shuttle indicating on their website that you may face penalties if you do not complete the form before booking in. This can be downloaded.
What is certain is that travel will not be the same as tourists are used to from years gone by. Users of glaciers during the summer saw limits to the numbers allowed to travel in vans, one per row in a mini bus and with masks being used. This has now been relaxed.
If all this is too much for you when going to your usual destination why not try a new destination? Resorts are looking to promote themselves as ahead of the rest of the game.
The Pays de Gex and its Monts Jura Mountain Resort of Lelex- Crozet and Mijoux – La Faucille is looking to offer its clients greater peace of mind during their stay. The French nature and mountain destination, on the outskirts of Geneva, is in the process of becoming the first whole area to obtain the COVID-FREE independent label. In addition, two of its popular hotels are the first hotels in France to obtain the COVID-FREE label. COVID-FREE is the first collaborative and independent label for professionals in the catering, hotel and tourism industries committed to fighting the spread of the virus www.covid-free.fr. The lift company plans to have the label by the time of opening in December 2020.
Yan Baczkowski, tourist office director of the Pays de Gex tourist Office and its Monts Jura resort, says: “We want to send a strong message to our visitors that we take their safety seriously. We want to show our partners that we understand the catastrophic economic impact of this crisis and send a message of confidence”.Sweden is still exempt from the FCO UK Government advice regarding all but exempt travel and Scandinavian Travel have launched a charter flight for the February half term into the Scandinavian Mountains Airport that will service he Swedish resorts of Sälen and Kläppen in under 40 minutes, as well Trysil, Norway in under an hour.