Fresh snow as far as the eye can see: Ski resorts in Argentina and Chile experienced a heavy onset of winter with up to 130 centimetres of fresh snow in the last few days. Perfect conditions for the start of the ski season in June. But in times of the Corona pandemic everything is different. Due to the continuing strong spread of the virus in South America, all ski resorts will remain closed. First regions already fear devastating consequences for the economy.
Number of cases still rising
While new corona infections in Europe are now very low, the number of cases in South America continues to rise strongly. Brazil, Peru and Chile are already among the world's top 7 countries with the most infected people. However, the strong spread in South America did not begin until the beginning of May, almost two months after the lockdown in Europe.
Currently, Chile, with its 18 million inhabitants and over 275,000 corona infected people, has overtaken more populous countries such as Germany or Italy. So far, there are significantly fewer cases in Argentina, the second winter sports country in South America. However, here too the curve is not yet flattening out, but continues to rise by several thousand per day.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide:
|5.||United Kingdom||313.470||66 Mio.|
(Source: John Hopkins University, as of June 30, 2020)
Opening date for ski areas uncertain
The governments in Argentina and Chile are taking various measures to contain the further spread of the virus as quickly as possible. These include the closure of the almost 20 ski resorts that normally start the three-month ski season in the southern hemisphere at the end of June. A possible opening date is repeatedly postponed, currently 18 July is under discussion. However, it is very uncertain whether this date can be kept.
With Las Leñas and La Hoya, the first two ski resorts in Argentina have already announced that they will not open this winter, even if the government gives the green light. This is mainly due to the lack of tourists and training groups from abroad, who are not allowed to fly into the country before September and October respectively. At this point, however, spring already begins in the southern hemisphere and the ski season draws to a close.
First region imposes commercial emergency
However, a complete cancellation of the ski season would be an economic catastrophe for some major winter sports regions in South America. For example, fears about the future are currently huge in the Bariloche region of Patagonia. With Catedral Alta Patagonia, Argentina's largest ski area is located there. Around 34,000 jobs here are indirectly affected by tourism. The losses in July alone are estimated at 43 million euros. It is the month with the highest turnover of the whole winter season. The local authorities have now already reacted and declared a commercial emergency.
Ski season started in Down Under
In the southern hemisphere, however, people are already skiing again: In contrast to the closed skiing areas in South America, the skiing season in Australia has already started. Even though the natural snow is still rather scarce here at the moment and the snow cannons are running at full speed. In New Zealand the operators want to follow suit in the first week of July under appropriate corona conditions and open the lifts for the new season.
Australia and New Zealand together have so far recorded "only" 9300 corona cases with about 30 million inhabitants. Added to this: In contrast to South America, the numbers here have been stagnant for several weeks.