After several EU states closed down ski resorts and called on citizens to avoid winter sports in the face of the Corona pandemic, the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), together with 25 companies and associations of the sports industry, has addressed a statement to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Brands such as Atomic, Fischer, Head, Intersport, K2, Rossignol, Salomon, Sport 2000 and Tecnica, as well as associations such as the Bundesverband der Deutschen Sportartikel-Industrie (BSI), the European Outdoor Group (EOG), the Verband Deutscher Sportfachhandel (VDS) and the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSG), point out the importance of winter sports for health and the economy, as well as the serious consequences of uncoordinated closures without lead time for the industry.
According to the cross industry statement, restrictions on winter sports affect around 60 million Europeans who ski regularly. Winter sports are not only part of the cultural heritage in many regions, but as a sport they are also important for mental and physical health.
The measures are hitting the industry, which generates €10 billion in annual revenue in Europe and employs 1.4 million people per season. All the more so, as the winter sports sector, as a seasonal and rental-oriented industry, is facing irreversible losses.
Moreover, the lack of winter sports tourism has unforeseen knock-on effect in the respective regions, where it will "strongly affect the lion share of income of small communities entirely".
Ski resorts, sports associations, ski schools, lift operators and shops have worked hard in recent months on sanitary measures and invested heavily in them.
"It is therefore relatively disproportionate to impose a blanket ban to an entire sector if proper sanitary measures can be developed and implemented in concertation with public and private actors," the statement says.
Therefore, the signatories of the statement encourage the EU and its member states to consider the following suggestions from the industry:
- Recognition and support: "Many sectors have received clear commitments from EU and National authorities that they will receive financial safety packages in various forms. The winter sport sector should be one of them. We also consider the current threshold of financial support of 800,000 EUR per company in the area of fixed cost compensation as a massive disadvantage even for medium-sized enterprises that should be re-evaluated."
- A concerted approach: "In preparation of the re-openings of resorts in January, our sector would call for a coordinated approach between the Member States with the support of the European Commission. Our sector would also be interested in joining such a dialogue and share its expertise and recommendations for the future."
- Predictability: "The entire winter sports sector has been taken by surprise by individual declarations without having been proactively consulted or informed in advance. We are presented with decisions that are based on incomprehensible and sometimes also somewhat un-adapted procedures and policy processes. We call on the development of clear and reliable risk indicators for inbound or outbound countries, as it has been done in many other tourism and travel sectors. This would allow winter sports actors to be properly informed in advance and to predict when and which resorts might close."
- Long term discussion on Winter Sports Holidays: "The COVID-19 sanitary crisis shows that the winter sports industry is relying on a very fragile model. Indeed, due to uncoordinated holidays throughout Europe, millions of people have a very limited time to practice their favorite sport, and often in crowded conditions. If only 1 or 2 weeks are missed due to weather conditions or a sanitary crisis, an entire business year can be impacted. A thorough discussion with all actors should be organized around a more efficient and sustainable coordination of winter sports related holidays for a long-term perspective."
The following companies are signatories of the statement:
- Marker Dalbello Völkl
- Groupe Rossignol
- Ski Set
- Sport 2000
- Tecnica Group
The following associations are signatories of the statement:
- Asociación Española de Fabricantes y Distribuidores de Artículos Deportivos (AFYDAD)
- Association Suisse des Magasins d'Articles de Sport (ASMAS)
- Associazione Nazionale fra i Produttori di Articoli Sportivi (Assosport)
- Bundesverband der Deutschen Sportartikel-Industrie (BSI)
- European Outdoor Group (EOG)
- Federation of European sporting goods retail associations (FEDAS)
- Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI)
- Dutch industry association for sporting goods suppliers (FGHS)
- Verband Deutscher Sportfachhandel (VDS)
- Verband der Sportartikelerzeuger und Sportausrüster Österreichs (VSSÖ)
- World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSG)