19/08/2022

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French ski accommodations worry lack of Christmas season as UK vacationers banned

CHAMONIX, France: Reservations for a fully-booked Christmas season at French ski resorts have been canceled, as British travelers have been banned from entering France during the upswing in Covid infections.

Effective last week, the government banned all non-essential travel from Britian to France due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

“I feel sad, disappointed and angry,” said Thomas Mathieu, the owner of Brasserie les Marmottons, who has let three employees go, as quoted by the BBC.

“Everything is ready here: we put on masks, we have the [vaccination] passes, we have everything right by our government. It’s very confusing for us,” he added.

In the Chamonix ski resort, one in four tourists were British. In fact, British tourists are the largest foreign group of visitors to ski in Chamonix.

However, some UK holiday visitors arrived before the shutdown and will enjoy a ski holiday.

“We’re missing a few people from different families who were supposed to come over, but who are probably just not going to be able to come out now,” said British tourist Hugh Kocheta, as quoted by the BBC. “It’s obviously a bit gutting for certain people.”

Resort owners, restaurants and shop keepers are seeing their worst fears come true as they relive the cancellations from Christmas 2020.

Dave Searle of the British Ski Guide association in Chamonix says he is concerned about future winter ski seasons

“If this continues this season, it’ll be a big loss of earnings up to 50 percent of my annual earnings is through the winter. I guess I’m worried it’s just going to keep doing this every winter. And if I’m losing half my earnings every year, I need to find a new profession,” Searle told the BBC.

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Speaking of the French closure of borders, he added, “It does make sense in some ways, and it’s all about keeping people safe and hospitals empty. But perhaps it does also feel like a bit of a kneejerk reaction, singling out one country.”

Currently, France has reported only a fraction of the Omicron cases witnessed by the UK.