Skiing with no snow? How Swiss ski resorts are coping with the heat
Swiss ski resorts are battling a truly formidable opponent this winter: higher temperatures than usual in the mountains. This is having an impact on the amount of snow that is around for skiers - many of whom are international visitors who haven’t been able to come to Switzerland since 2019.
Some in the ski industry are calling for a greater focus on climate protection in Switzerland, while others say now is the time for the industry to start looking at creative solutions to save Switzerland’s tourism industry.
Winter 2023: No snow in Switzerland
So far this winter, despite having a cold snap early on in the season, the weather across Switzerland’s slopes has been relatively mild. Just by taking a glance at one of the country’s many ski resort webcam streams, it’s easy to see that some of Switzerland's ski resorts - especially the ones at lower altitudes - are struggling to maintain their runs. Even snow-related events, including the 40th edition of the Grindelwald snow festival, have been forced to cancel due to the lack of snowfall. While some snow has been forecast in Grindelwald for next week, the snow artists say it simply won’t be enough.
Switzerland is not alone in its ski-resort snow troubles, though. Earlier this week the Dutch Skiing Association issued warnings for Dutch skiers planning a holiday in the coming weeks after a woman from the Netherlands died on the slopes of Tirol, in Austria. The association warned that snow is likely to be of a poor quality and that pistes are narrower and busier than usual. According to some estimates, around 50 percent of ski slopes in France and Switzerland are closed.
Swiss tourism could depend on hiking and mountain biking
As winter tourism struggles on, some in Switzerland are calling for hiking and cycling to become the new skiing for the Swiss tourism sector. The country had more than 25 million skier-days in the last ski season, and while money is still generated from the country’s own skiing population, tourists from abroad always give the Swiss economy a boost during ski season.
At the moment, many resorts are managing to get by using artificial snow and snow cannons, but the future could be much more grim. The director of the working group for the mountain areas, Thomas Egger, told SRF that it’s time for resorts to consider pushing hiking and cycling holidays forward to encourage tourists for the winter season. "There is great potential here to do even more," Egger said, adding that it would be wise for the ski industry to reposition itself now before the situation advances.
Image: Shutterstock.com / Stefano Ember