Photo courtesy of Dragon Alliance.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease around Australia we are seeing cafes, restaurants and even theme parks open. An exciting addition to the list will be Australia’s ski resorts which will begin opening from next week. Early predictions saw us missing out on the ski season, but given Australia’s success in flattening the curve it is with much excitement we can hit the slopes this winter!

Australia’s leading ski resorts Perisher, Thredbo, Buller and Hotham have all confirmed they will be turning on the lifts again within the next two weeks.

Neil Ritchie, SBIA Board Member and owner of Auski Melbourne, Albury & Shepparton shares some insight to the current state-of-play within this sector.

The unexpected has happened, the resorts will open and skiers and snowboarders will get their day in the snow.

The early damage was incredible, by April 1st  2020 importers and retailers had to make hard decisions,  the dilemma, “how do I save my company” and if I survive what will the snow industry look like running into May 2021. Orders were cancelled in bulk, or placed on permanent hold, containers turned around and stock was left sitting in warehouses around the world.

Here we are in the middle of June and many retailers are reporting very good sales, this depends on location and the type of store, but the industry has come to life and now there is a scramble to have orders delivered with warehouses around Australia struggling to ship, delays of up to 2 weeks are being reported.

We know that most apartment style accommodation on the mountains has been booked out and ticket sales based on a 50% availability is also close to being sold out, great news for the snow retailers and wholesalers, the industry will survive. Even better, there is still the chance that the resorts could fully open later in the season, or at least, increase the capacity of the resort.

What will sales look like for 2020, they will vary dramatically. Some stores will only reach 50% of their normal turnover, especially those who rely on rental or day trippers, others could reach 80% to 90% of normal turnover for the winter, an incredible turnaround. The great news is that the industry will come out of this pandemic stronger, leaner, and more aligned than ever.

I have watched as everyone came together to give the industry its best chance of survival, suppliers worked together, resorts shared information, of course everyone had to do what was right for their own company but importantly they wanted the snow industry to be healthy and to have a future.

A big thank you to the SIA, (Snowsports Industry of Australia), plus the team led by Colin Hackworth who presented the snow industry interest to the government. There has been an incredible amount of work done behind the scenes, most will take it for granted, but without these people we may still have empty stores and warehouses full of stock.