Tourism, shelter managers: “Uncertain winter between expensive bills and unknown weather”

The season is almost upon us, but there is little to be happy for the Lombard operators. Between the energy crisis and the effects of climate change, the future is full of uncertainties

There winter season is now upon us, but for the tour operators of the Lombard mountains there is little to be happy about. Between dear bills and the unknown of weather forecastconditioned by the effects of climate change, the future is full of uncertainties. So much so that there are those who are seriously considering whether to open or remain closed waiting for better times: “In this period of the season – Fabrizio Carella, president of the Otto-roa huts and alpine works commission explains to Adnkronos del Cai Lombardia – many shelters have anticipated closure; others remain open only on weekends, weather conditions permitting, but the real problem will be for the winter season, given the exponentially increased energy costs “.

Then there is an important issue to consider, that of food supplies: “Many managers in the high mountains have to pay the transport by helicopter to have the procurement service and this also has a great influence on overhead costs “. That’s why” at the moment there is a lot of insecurity, even if I trust in adaptability of our managers who, in the face of difficulties, were able to react in the best way to face the crisis “.

The abnormal heat last summer undoubtedly favored business for Lombard refugees who, however, risk seeing frustrate the results if action is not taken soon: “The summer just ended, speaking of numbers, was a good season – affirm Sandra Bottanelli and Chicco Zani, managers of the Cai Albani refuge in Colere, in the Bergamo area-. In the months of June and July, attendance was greater than the previous year and the number of overnight stays also increased, also considering the regulations Covid more permissive, which in the last 2 years had greatly reduced the number of places available. However, what we have perceived overall is that, above all in families, the spending budget. To understand, if before in a lunch more courses were consumed, now a good part is reduced to contain costs “.

Just to keep costs down, the Albani refuge itself has decided to close its doors ahead of time: “This year we have closing early to 18 September, while we usually also opened on weekends until the end of October -explain the managers-. We made this choice not only to be able to do some maintenance work on the structure, also for the numbers we are doing in this autumn season. It wasn’t worth it keep open with the costs that are rising. ”

For the winter, then, “there is still a lot of uncertainty; for the winter season we will open, starting with the week that goes from New Year to Epiphany, then we will evaluate whether to open on weekends until the end of April, but only if the attendance is such as to cover at least the expenses “. Also because” we have permanent employees to whom we want to guarantee the season, but if there will not be a reduction in costs, with the variables that exist by managing a refuge at 2000 meters, unfortunately we cannot give them this certainty “.

In any case, “we already consider ourselves very lucky because our employees, in order not to miss the season, in case the ski lifts do not work, have said they are willing to go up every weekend on foot (and it is 2 and a half hours ) with snowshoes or mountaineering skis nice working climate, we are a big family. It is not easy even for us to hypothesize to choose to keep closed “.

Also for Emanuele and Fabio Bergomi, managers of the Zoia refuge in Campo Moro Lanzada, in Valmalenco, “the numbers of the summer just passed are positive, even higher than the average of recent years”. And the reservations for the winter, “are in line with past years”. Of course, they admit, “the last few years have accustomed us to uncertainty”. For this reason “we try to work with serenity, planning the work in the short term and trying to be the most flexible possible, which we also ask our employees to do “.

By increasing uncertainties “we try to avoid riskier investments and try to optimize the resources we have”. But the rise in prices and the supply difficultiesHowever, they weigh: “If energy costs continue to rise – the two managers warn – it could be uneconomical to open”.

Of course, “put a roof on energy tariffsfacilitating and encouraging the use of wood could be of help, also to the territory in terms of cleanliness and safety “. For the winter season,” those who work with ski lifts are conditioned by the risk of not opening the lifts “and “if it doesn’t snow, given the water shortage and the increase in energy costs, I believe that few localities will be able to produce artificial snow and open the lifts. who will not be able to ski, as happened in 2021. If, on the other hand, there will be snow, as we all hope, we think it will be a good season for everyone “.