Ski Resorts – The big opportunity

News | May 11 | 2018 | No Comment

Most of the Ski Resorts in Greece -if not all of them- are not economically sustainable. But that is not only a matter of Greek Ski Resorts.
For instance Hintertux, one of the biggest Ski Resorts in Austria, every year has losses.
Despite the fact that Hintertux Glacier is a resort that operates all year long -since is a training centre for Alpine Ski Teams- it does not manage to make a profit balance sheet. But let’s leave Hintertux at the side for a while…
Austria has been operating perfectly for many, many years regarding its mountaineering tourism and in particular its Ski Resorts. Due to a sequence of facts lately and especially because of the climate change, Austrians have revised their planning priority of theirs tourism policy. That is why no ski resorts that are at low altitudes are finance supported by the government any more.
However, the development of mountain biking and especially downhill, triggered the growth of the Resorts during the summer season and gave the chance to develop infrastructures and services related to mountain biking.
A typical example is the Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis, a traditional Austrian Ski Resort, which has managed after planning and executing perfectly a specific business plan, to be considered as one of the world ‘s top destinations in recent years for mountain bike enthusiasts. The average number of tickets for the Serfaus Bike Park during the summer season exceeded 500 cards per day, a figure that Greek Ski Resorts can not succeed even during the best skiing days at their winter season …
Not to mention examples such as Whistler, Canada, where the tourists during the summer season overcomes 2 millions at Whistler Bike Park…
Greece is very poor related the Alpine countries, regarding not only the infrastructures but also snowing conditions and low temperatures. Therefore it is very hard for Ski Resorts in Greece to develop their skiing facilities.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, for Greek Ski Resorts to rely exclusively on skiing season and to operate sustainably in a winter season which can not exceed 3 months at the best case scenario. On the other hand, operating as Bike Parks during the summer season, could give them the financial breath they need to function smoothly, but also to grow in a sustainable way, making sense even investing in their winter season afterwards.
Now what about the development project of the Resorts as Bike Parks?
Is it possible for Greece to compete Alpine countries and their Bike Parks?
We certainly have the perfect weather conditions, for having a big and beautiful season in Greece for mountain bike. We have expertise in tourism as well as the necessary conditions (landscape, history, culture, gastronomy) to create a complete market product and develop a high level mountain bike destination. Last but not least we have the most important advantage in the tourism industry, which is said in one word … “hospitality” What are we missing? Well, basically the following:
1. Infrastructures and Services 2. Plan and Collaborations
Infrastructures for Bike Parks does not require unrealistic costs. Most of the lifts in our Ski Resorts can also be used for mountain bikes. Purpose built trails that need to be built require mainly work, volunteering, cooperation with local institutes, and secondly money. And the timing is perfect concerning the finance tools, through the 2nd sector of Greek Development law, which predicts financing Ski Resorts.
Services are basically an issue of the private sector. They are however, an excellent opportunity to create jobs and also wealth for the local community.
The planning of such a project MUST be done by people and companies with the appropriate know-how and having as target the most benefits the destination can get. That is why collaborations between institutes, local society and the business community are necessary for the maximum of the benefits at such a project.
Let’s go for a while back to the example of Hintertux. As we mentioned earlier, Hintertux has losses at their balance sheet every year. So how does the Resort remains not just functional, but as one of the world’s top Ski Resorts? No State funds here … Simply ALL businesses in the area (hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.) are offering the 2% of their annual turnover to the Ski Resort, ensuring the smooth running of the Resort , but also their own sustainability… Now that is a cooperation…
It is time for Greece to understand the benefits of synergies and how important it is in these very difficult economical conditions, for all stakeholders to work together, for the common good and the sustainability of the Ski Resorts.
The great opportunity of the Resorts is here. Now that the development conditions have matured and the financial tools are accessible (NSRF, Leader etc), now that mountain biking has such a high potential worldwide, now that there are people and companies in Greece with the relevant know-how and specialisation.
Let’s not lose such an opportunity…