French ski resorts fight to keep ski lifts open

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French ski resorts are launching a legal challenge against the government’s order to keep ski lifts closed at resorts this holiday season.

While resorts can remain open, President Emmanuel Macron has asked that ski lifts that transport skiers to the mountains remain closed until at least January to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to a Bloomberg report.

The resorts say the measure will essentially wipe out the holiday ski season and the millions in revenue they should have earned if the ski lifts remained open. Domaines Skiables de France, which represents the seaside resorts, has filed an appeal against the closure order with France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, Bloomberg said.

The resorts face an uphill battle, with the Council of State recently dismissing a call from the French hotel industry to overturn an order to close bars and restaurants.

Like many countries, France is struggling with a second wave of COVID-19 infections. The country ordered a partial lockdown at the end of October, forcing most people to stay in their homes and shut down non-essential stores.

French authorities have indicated they would like to open the ski lifts in January if they can bring the infection rate under control. They said the vacation closure will help save the ski industry’s busiest months, February and March. French ski resorts bring in about $ 13 billion each season, of which about a quarter goes towards the holiday season, according to Bloomberg.

European nations have been divided over whether to close their ski resorts. Germany and Italy have closed their resorts for the holidays, while those in Austria and Switzerland remain open.

In response to the closures, the French government plans to announce additional financial support for the ski industry on Wednesday, December 9. The measures include short-time working benefits for seasonal workers and financial aid for businesses dependent on the resort such as small shops, according to Bloomberg.

A decision by the Council of State on the closure of elevators is expected by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, the second wave of foreclosures in Europe this fall had a chilling effect on the eurozone economy, according to analysis released by IHS Markit in late November.

The IHS Markit Eurozone Composite flash PMI fell to 45.1 in November from 50.0 in the previous month. The data indicate the likelihood of a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter. The flash composite PMI for France fell to 39.9 from 47.5, marking the third consecutive monthly decline and the largest since May, according to the report.

The service sector – particularly hospitality, travel and consumer companies – is the most criticized, with production declining in the last three consecutive months. Manufacturing output also slowed.

Europe’s lucrative holiday tourism industry has also been hit by the second round of lockdowns.

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