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Verbier 'costs 40 percent more than Ischgl': report

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Verbier 'costs 40 percent more than Ischgl': report
Photo: Ischgl.com
10:30 CET+01:00
A Swiss consumer affairs TV programme has highlighted the challenge ski resorts in Switzerland have competing with similar resorts in neighbouring countries, such as Austria.

Verbier, in the canton of Valais, which bills itself as the biggest ski area in Switzerland, costs 40 percent more than Ischgl in Austria, a Tyrolian mountain resort of comparable size, the Toutes Taxes Comprises (TTC) programme reported on French-language RTS on Monday.

Research conducted for the programme concluded that Verbier was significantly more expensive for visitors than its Austrian counterpart in most areas.

The differences were particularly stark for hotel, food and drink costs.

The programme said an average hotel stay for a ski week during peak periods costs 2,632 francs ($2,639) for two people in Verbier, compared to 1,021 francs in Ischgl.

A week's ski pass for adults at the Swiss resort will set you back 426 francs in high season, versus 284 francs at the Tyrolian resort.

A daily pass costs 69 francs in Verbier, 38 percent more than in Ischgl, TTC said.

Yet Ischgl offers more runs (250 kilometres versus 195 kilometres at Verbier) and more lifts (45 versus 40).

Charges for renting ski equipment are roughly the same, while ski lessons are moderately more expensive in Verbier, the programme said.

Though Ischgl is less expensive it has been investing heavily in new lifts and infrastructure, while also diversifying its appeal to non-skiers, TTC said.

Conveyor belts transport skiers from bars and restaurants to the ski lifts.

Around 1,000 snow blowers have been installed to ensure coverage on the slopes.

Drinks are cheap in the bars, where entertainment includes girls dancing on tables and a regular series of pop concerts.

“We have here up to 20,000 skiers a day,” Andreas Steibel, director of tourism for Paznaun/Ischgl, told the programme.

“But above all, for 20 years, we have clearly positioned ourselves as a lifestyle destination,” he said.

“Our target is rather well off customers between the ages of 30 and 60, singles or couples.”

(For families with children, this may be one area where Verbier offers an advantage, with services such as childcare and kids' ski camps.)  

The rosy outlook at the Austrian resort contrasts with the situation in Switzerland, where lack of snow in the Christmas period cut the number of visitors to Swiss ski areas by 11 percent, following a difficult year in 2014-15, TTC said.

Swiss resorts are also struggling with a strong franc, which makes them more expensive for visitors from the European Union.

But perhaps most worrying for Swiss tourist operators, tourists interviewed at Ischgl said they loved it there and found resorts in Switzerland “boring”.  

Mind you, aficionados of Verbier, including the likes of Prince Andrew and his ex, Sarah Ferguson, may have something to say about that.

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