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Australia’s ski industry under threat after second winter of COVID-19 lockdowns

Australia’s ski industry under threat after second winter of COVID-19 lockdowns
September 16, 2021

After two consecutive winters with limited domestic trade and no international tourists, reports suggest that Australia's snow industry is on the brink of collapse.

Snowsports Industries Australia (SIA) Chairman Edward Fortey believes the entire industry is under threat - from small city retailers to accommodation providers and large resorts - telling the ABC “there has been a closure of nearly two years … our members have gone through their second winter as essentially a non-event

"We are pretty resilient … but it is an impossible task to ask them to survive … there are going to be some casualties, unfortunately."

While support has been provided to some parts of the industry, National Retailers Association (NRA) Chief Executive, Dominique Lamb said support modelling had been based around geography and failed to acknowledge the national network that made up the entire industry.

Lamb advised "we need it to be broadened to anyone who is operating a business, including manufacturing, specifically for the snow industry, so it's not just if you are in a region," Ms Lamb said.

The NRA and SIA are calling on the Federal Government to view the snow industry on the same level as the aviation sector - with a package similar to the Tourism Aviation Network Support Program.

They also want the NSW government to develop an Alpine Resorts Winter Support package, and the Victorian Government to broaden its current program to include all off-mountain providers.

Advising that such changes would ensure non-mountain-based businesses were lifted out of a potential collapse, Lamb noted “ultimately, we need to have our state governments take a look at this because we know that there are tens of thousands of regional jobs at stake

Adding to the problem was the seasonal nature of the snow industry, causing a lengthy wait until regular operations returned.

Fortey went on to say "when we come out of lockdown … they will have no trade because the winter has passed. So that leaves them with nine months waiting for the next time for them to start welcoming people back into their stores.”

Ritchie said unless there was an immediate policy change, the situation would remain dire, adding “there are going to be a lot [of businesses] who won't be there [next winter season], so as people are heading to the snow next year they're going to have a lot less choice unless we do something to save them and we've got to do it now.”

While Victoria’s winter resorts are open to visitors from most parts of regional Victoria, NSW’s resorts remain closed.

The industry contributes an estimated $2 billion to the economy annually and employs around 20,000 people.

Image: Perisher on what was the opening days of the 2021 snow season.

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