Get out of shock and face the future with courage: the Zermatt Bergbahnen are sticking to their plans even in the current crisis and will invest 60 million Swiss francs in two new cable cars over the next two years. And this despite large losses in sales and general uncertainty in times of the Corona pandemic. Construction work already started in mid-April.
Massive decline in turnover in tourism
In mid-March, public life in Switzerland was shut down and all ski resorts were closed in order to contain the coronavirus. Since then, the lockdown and the border closures have led to massive losses in turnover in the tourism industry, which includes not only ski resorts but also accommodation, restaurants and even shops. The ski season would have run almost everywhere at least until Easter. In Zermatt even much longer, as the section of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is open for skiers during the whole year.
Additional financing by banks necessary
Many Swiss ski resort operators and also hoteliers have currently put their investment plans on ice or have already thrown them completely over the edge. The Board of Directors of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG has decided to take a different approach, as they announced in a recent press release. Despite a more difficult starting position, they will make the major investments of 60 million Swiss francs (approx. 57 million euros) over the next two years as planned. Because every crisis also has an end and they want to invest consciously in the future.
The construction of two new cable cars is only possible with additional financing from several banks. The profitability of the Zermatt mountain railways has so far been among the best in the industry. Last year they even recorded the best business year in history. With their optimistic future strategy, they have now not only convinced the financial backers, but are also sending a positive signal to the industry that there is also a time after. "With these investments, we want to live up to our pioneering role both within and outside the Zermatt-Matterhorn destination and show that we can all master this challenge together," says CEO Markus Hasler.
New 3S lift to Italy
The last major project in Zermatt is not so very long ago: the new Glacier Ride, the highest 3S lift in the world, was only opened in autumn 2018. Approximately 60 million euros were invested in this mega-project that caused a big sensation worldwide (we reported).
By 2021, the second 3S lift, the Glacier Ride II, will be launched. The cable car runs between the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Testa Grigia. Therewith, Zermatt is connected to Italy during the whole year and the "Alpine Crossing" becomes reality. The highest crossing of the Alps is to become a further attraction for year-round tourism, on which the whole region lives.
Construction work on the new track has been underway since spring 2019, but has been interrupted in the meantime due to weather and corona conditions, and resumed in mid-April. In any case, the company also wants to take into account the requirements with regard to the corona virus, such as hygienic measures and distance rules.
Update: Due to the Corona pandemic, the construction of the new 3S-Bahn has been delayed. The opening is planned for summer 2022.
First unmanned gondola lift in Switzerland
The second ropeway project is already scheduled for completion for the coming 2020/2021 winter season: the new Kumme gondola on the Rothorn mountain. This is the first unmanned gondola lift in Switzerland. This means that it will be operated without station staff during passenger service. The 56 cabins, each with a capacity of ten passengers, can transport 1500 passengers per hour.
"Waiting times in this area will be a thing of the past, and thanks to the new system and the installation of the snow-making equipment, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG expects a massive upgrade of the entire winter sports area in terms of transport and piste quality."
The construction work for the new Kumme gondola lift also started in mid-April in order to be ready by the start of the winter season in autumn. The construction companies are already on hand and are very pleased that the mountain railways have decided to make this courageous investment despite the Corona crisis.
Our rating for the ski area in Zermatt