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Falls Creek and Mt Hotham close lifts as Victorian snow industry is dealt a chilling COVID-19 blow

By Mikaela Ortolan and Rhiannon Tuffield, Friday July 10, 2020 - 17:10 EST
ABC image
Mt Buller ski resort will stay open, but the news is not so good for Mt Hotham and Falls Creek, where ski lifts will close for at least the month of July. - ABC

Victoria's coronavirus crisis has brought the state's $800 million snow season to its knees, dealing yet another staggering blow to the tourism industry.

Ski lifts at Mt Hotham and Falls Creek will not operate until at least August as a result of Melbourne's six-week shutdown and a block on interstate travellers.

It comes after a horror economic period for Victoria's north-east, plagued by the summer bushfires and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Mount Hotham Chamber of Commerce president Steve Belli said it was a massive blow.

"It's certainly going to be one for the history books," he said.

"Everyone's still reeling from the news and a lot of people have lost their jobs over it."

In a statement Mt Buller confirmed it would continue lift operations ensuring access to the ski area and lessons.

Resorts only one week into season

The owner of Mt Hotham and Falls Creek Vail Resorts made the decision in line with the current stay at home directions for Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

All reservations for lift tickets, ski and ride lessons and rental booking will be cancelled and fully refunded.

It comes just a month after the this year despite the pandemic.

The resorts, which , were already operating under strict social distancing and had a limit on visitor numbers.

Vail Resorts chief executive Pete Brulisauer said his decision was not easy.

"We know our employees, guests and the communities where we operate have already endured so much hardship this year," he said.

"However, we are focused first and foremost on health and safety, following local health guidelines and doing our part to support efforts across Victoria."

Mount Buller resort chief executive Mark Bennetts said his resort would maintain a rigorous safety protocol in order to stay open.

"This year has been incredibly tough on our community," Mr Bennetts said.

"But we remain committed and determined in the face of this latest challenge to support the local people and those in our region who rely on tourism," he said.

People living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must follow the changed restrictions and stay home.

Those with bookings will be eligible for refunds and changes.

Economy reeling from pandemic

The Mount Hotham Chamber hopes to rally businesses together to see what else can be offered this season based on the resorts staying open and possible lift opening later in the season.

But Mr Belli said the financial damage would be irreparable.

"On top of the bushfires and the restrictions we had in place to start with this has just topped it all off unfortunately," he said. 

"When you miss out on school holidays that's a pretty big blow to most operators because it's the busiest time of the season."


© ABC 2020

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