Local tourists will soon be able to enjoy the NSW ski fields, with the state’s alpine region to open from June 22 after a coronavirus-affected start to the snow season.
With the cancellation of the traditional June long weekend start to the snow season, Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he was keen to see tourists back on the slopes.
But ski field operators would need to ensure resorts were COVID-safe through physical distancing, controlled access to ski lifts, no snow play and enhanced cleaning procedures.
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“These measures will mean that fewer people will be able to visit and stay at resorts this season, so it is essential that people book and confirm their travel arrangements and accommodation before they travel,” Mr Barilaro said in a statement.
“We are welcoming every visitor to regional NSW with open arms and I will be celebrating by shouting a few beers, but it is more important than ever that we continue to be responsible and maintain good physical distancing while we are enjoying ourselves.”
Thredbo, Charlotte Pass and Perisher will open but Mt Selwyn resort will remain shut throughout this year’s snow season due to bushfire damage.
Australian Ski Areas Association chief executive Colin Hackworth welcomed the government’s decision, saying it would provide a shot in the arm for NSW operators.
“The NSW resorts are of course disappointed to miss the traditional opening of the snow season on the June long weekend but operators are looking forward to the season ahead and are busily preparing for the safe opening of the resorts from June 22,” Mr Hackworth said in a statement.
Mr Hackworth this month said the association was in “lock step” with the government on safety protocols on ski fields and would encourage conservative behaviour.
The announcement gives NSW resorts three-and-a-half weeks’ notice to bring staff in and train them where required, stock up and begin operations.
In Jindabyne, The Shed Ski Hire owner Gary Vaughan last month told AAP he had been working towards a season opener over the June long weekend or July 1.
“We’re not selling jackets and skis, we’re there for hire, we’ve got nothing else to sell,” he said.
“Tourism is paramount, it’s the most important thing, everybody wanting to come down to see the snow and touch and feel it. That’s all we depend upon.”
© AAP 2020