This year, the coronavirus pandemic has affected almost all industries, including tourism. A number of countries have decided not to rush to open ski resorts, and in some countries, they will work with severe restrictions.
Now France, Germany, and Italy have refused to accept tourists. There, winter resorts will not work until at least the end of January. In Austria, resorts will open, but only for local residents and without the opportunity to stay overnight. But Switzerland and Spain, on the contrary, decided not to lose the season.
Ukraine also allowed ski resorts to welcome tourists, and during the lockdown in particular. According to chief sanitary doctor Viktor Lyashko, the risk of contracting Covid-19 is low in the mountains.
"Ski resorts will work to relieve the cities. It is impossible to get infected while skiing," the doctor explained. At the same time, the work of lifts will be strictly regulated, and restaurants and baths will be forced to close during a strict quarantine.
Not now, but in a while
December did not please tourist centers and hotels with a large number of tourists. There are several reasons for this: someone complains about the lack of snow and someone about the long-term uncertainty of the authorities regarding the date of the introduction of strict quarantine restrictions.
"The worst weather, coupled with the pandemic, led to a 25% decrease in the number of cable car passengers in December 2020 compared to December 2019," Zakhar Berkut resort representatives noted.
A similar situation was encountered by the UKRAINE-TOUR travel company. Sales fell on average 3-5 times. The reason for this is called "the lack of specifics on the part of the government."
“When, what, how they shut down, for how long, what will work, what will not work, the conditions and rules are changed 100 times. People do not know what to do,” said Vitaliy Bazan, the owner of the company.
Representatives of small resorts are of the same opinion. There this year, despite the closure of part of the borders for Ukrainians, they do not hope for an insane influx of tourists. At best, vacation demand is expected to remain at last year's level.
"This is a myth (an increase in the number of Ukrainian tourists this season, - ed.). In the summer, there was no increase, in winter, too, an increase is not predicted. God forbid, not worse than last year," said Skita estate, located in tourist village Vorokhta.
Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Association of Tour Operators Ihor Golubakha is inclined to the same opinion. Moreover, the expert is convinced that this year there will be significantly fewer tourists in the Carpathians than in previous years.
"In Ukraine, the decline in tourism will be quite significant: more than 50%, this is unambiguous. Perhaps, the pandemic has less impact on domestic travel, but we are seeing a worldwide trend towards a reduction in the number of visits and trips of people," Ihor Golubakha explained.
However, representatives of large tourist complexes and popular resorts call January "quite active". A significant increase in the number of tourists is expected during the New Year and Christmas period. In particular, a tourist boom is predicted in Bukovel this winter.
"By the end of November, all rooms in the Bukovel shopping center were booked for the New Year period. There is a large request for both the Christmas holidays and the entire winter season. Almost 100% of rooms have been booked," said Vitalia Vasylchuk, the resort's press secretary.
A profitable season this year is also expected at the Karpaty Travel company. They are convinced that there will be no lockdown in the Carpathians after January 8: cottages and hotels will be rented out, lifts will work, jeep tours, outdoor excursions, and the like will be conducted.
Prices and services
As of the end of December, there were almost no rooms left in the hotels offered by Bukovel for New Year's Eve. A few days before the holiday, you can grab a double room without meals for 186 USD for two adults. Large companies can still manage to rent a small dacha for 1 199 USD per night for 6 people. Meals are also not included in the price.
From January 3, vacant places in hotels are much more and prices are lower. A double room can be rented from 64 USD to 317 USD and more per night. The price depends on the date of arrival, as well as on the level of the hotel and the room itself. After January 10, prices decline even more. Double junior suite with breakfast included, SPA and free night skiing can be rented for 46 USD.
However, booking.com has lower cost accommodation options. A room in a guest house 2-2 km from the ski lifts on New Year's Eve can be booked for 35-75 USD. After January 3-4, 11-39 km from Bukovel, a double room will be rented for 17 USD per night. And after January 10, in the same area, rooms for two or three people in private houses can be found at a cost of 13 USD per night and more without meals. In the village of Polyanytsia, near the center of the resort, during this period, rooms are offered from 35 USD.
Large companies after the Christmas holidays can rent a house with several bedrooms for 16-17 km from Bukovel from 35 to 350 USD, depending on the date, the number of rooms, and location.
In the pre-holiday period, you could have a rest in the heart of the Carpathians at about the same cost. However, during the New Year, prices traditionally rise by 2-3 times.
Prices for ski passes in Bukovel start at 5 USD per ride and can reach 65 USD, depending on the period and time of use. For a three-day pass, you will have to pay from UAH 50 to 220 USD, for five days - from 80 to 340 USD. The most expensive skiing period is during the New Year and Christmas period – from January 2 to 6, and cheaper – in the "low" season.
This ski resort is located near the village of Slavske. Prices for rooms in hotels there range from 50 – 65 USD per day (economy and standard) to 80-100 USD (junior suite, suite).
During the New Year and Christmas period, on the website of the ski resort, they offer to rent a room for 5 nights at UAH 290 – 465 USD (economy, standard) or for 440—635 USD (junior suite, suite). Breakfast is included in the price.
On booking.com in the village of Slavske, rooms in guest houses can be rented for 20-30 USD per night or more. After the Christmas holidays, it is somewhat cheaper 11-14 USD per night, depending on the type of room and the location of the house itself.
Ski passes at the Zakhar Berkut resort can be purchased for 14 USD for a full day.
Tourists who do not have their own equipment can rent it directly at the resort. A complete set (skis, boots, poles, helmet or snowboard, snowboard shoes, helmet) can be rented for 7 USD. A ski kit (skis, poles, boots) or a kit for snowboarders (snowboard and boots) - for 5 UAH. You can also separately rent skis or snowboards.
The press center of the resort noted that compared to last year, prices for holidays, in general, have increased by 20% here.
This is the only alpine ski resort in Ukraine, located at an altitude of 1,400-1,700 m above sea level in the Svidovets ridge of the Carpathian Mountains. It is located 10 km from the village of Yasynya, Rakhiv district, Zakarpattia region.
At the Dragobrat ski resort, the prices for ski passes depend on the number of ascents. The cheapest season ticket costs 11 USD for ten climbs.
Prices for the season 2020-2021 for ski passes of Drahobrat (with a discount):
adult ski pass for 50 climbs – 40 USD;
adult ski pass for 20 climbs – 16 USD;
adult ski pass for 10 climbs – 9 USD;
children's ski pass for 50 lifts – 20 USD.
What prices depend on?
If in ski resorts the cost of recreation is mainly influenced by the prices of electricity and the purchasing power of Ukrainians, then tour operators also pay attention to the demand among tourists.
This year, prices for recreational trips, which include excursions, winter skiing, acquaintance with the culture, traditions of the region, and the like, start at an average of 67 USD and can reach 180 USD or more. Their cost is influenced by both the number of days of rest and the entertainment program and the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the lack of an influx of tourists, the organizers of the tours do their best not to go into negative territory. Someone raises the prices of services to make departures more cost-effective. And someone, on the contrary, reduces them in order to return the invested funds.
“It has become cheaper here because I need to return the money that we have invested. To return it to me, I’m ready to lower prices,” explained Ihor Gvozdetsky, director of the company Tours With Us.
And some companies, on the contrary, are forced to raise the cost of services in order not to incur losses. The reason for this is not only the "tourist crisis," but also the rising cost of heating and other utilities.
"Prices rise every year, but this depends on the seasons: the heating season is more expensive, not the heating season - cheaper... Last year there were more tourists – it was more profitable to make tours turnover. This year there are fewer tourists, and in order to make trips more profitable, were forced to slightly raise the cost," Vitaliy Bazan, the owner of the UKRAINE-TOUR company, explained.
According to the chairman of the organization in the All-Ukrainian Association of Tourist Operators Ihor Golubakha, prices for holidays in the Carpathians depend on the purchasing power of citizens.
“Today the economic situation is not very good, people's incomes are decreasing, there are problems for private entrepreneurs and hired workers. People are beginning to save money, including on vacation,” he explained.
In this regard, the expert does not see trends or calls for a significant increase in prices for winter vacations. It is also not predicted that this year entrepreneurs will be able to earn a lot on tourism.