COVID-19: Austrian resorts concerned over new tourist entry rules

In this March 14, 2014 file photo, people ski at the mountains around Saalbach, Austria.
In this March 14, 2014 file photo, people ski at the mountains around Saalbach, Austria.   -  Copyright  Martin Meissner / AP
By Euronews

New travel regulations in Austria are already leading to a wave of cancellations in Salzburg's winter sports region, and not only for the Christmas holidays, but also for the rest of the winter season.

From December 25, restrictions on people entering the country from the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway will be tighter, as the countries will be classified as "virus variant areas", which means that a quarantine of ten days will be mandatory.

Only the triple vaccinated with a valid negative PCR test will be exempt from the mandatory quarantine.

Despite many meeting this criterion, most people are still reluctant to travel, impacting winter tourism.

The Netherlands and Great Britain alone account for about 25% of Salzburg's winter guests.

All this causes uncertainty, and the hoteliers in the winter resorts fear that the season is already over before it has even really started.

"Our German guests have cancelled because their non-vaccinated children would have to quarantine when they return home, those are the kinds of problems we are facing. We are transferring, cancelling, managing and new bookings are coming, it's a lot of efforts," revealed Erwin Schwarz, the hotel owner of St Johann Alpendorf.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, the ski season has officially opened, and due to recent heavy snowfall, the conditions are excellent.

Some resorts are reporting twice the reservations as last year.

Most of the hotels in Bansko are already booked for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

"Around 40% of our guests are from the United Kingdom. In second place is the Bulgarian market – we respect this market very much. Every tourist destination relies on its internal market so guests from Bulgaria are very important and valuable," said Blagovesta Tomova, from the board of directors of the Union of Hoteliers in Borovets.

In Bulgaria, health certificates are only required inside, in hotels and restaurants, and masks must only be worn in lifts.

Additional sources • EBU