Warming Austria

Alps Inc. in trouble

No snow? Have a beer!
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    As climate change brings reduced snow levels, Austrian winter resorts need to come up with innovative approaches to cope with the declining numbers of visitors.

  • Facts


    • Overnight guest totals were down 5 percent in Austrian ski resorts in the 2015 portion of this winter.
    • Winter tourism accounts for €7.2 billion in annual revenues and 83,000 jobs in Austria.
    • Worldwide ski sales have declined from 8 to 3 million pairs of skis in the last 25 years.
  • Audio


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“Beer!” shouts the man in the plaid shirt to his coworkers at the tap. “Beer! Beer! Beer!”

The waiters at the Trofana Alm need refills. With his right hand, one of them holds up two-meter-long wooden slats, each holding 10 glasses, and with his left hand he balances a plastic crate containing even more beer, cordials and pear schnapps.

The song “Hey! Wir woll’n die Eisbär’n sehen!” (Hey! We Want to See the Polar Bears!) is blaring from the sound system. The waiters blow whistles to carve out a path through the crowd of people wearing ski suits, hopping around, dancing and screeching. Welcome to après-ski in Ischgl.

Hans von der Thannen is standing behind the bar, watching his employees. The taps are running nonstop, and the dishwashers and barkeepers are working as hard as they can. The boss nods with approval. His patrons have been known to consume 100 50-liter kegs on a single day. A hundred kegs translates into more than €50,000, or $57,000, in sales. Add wine, champagne and schnapps to the mix, and the bar can easily pull in more than €100,000 on a busy day.

Après-ski is a booming business, and Ischgl epitomizes its success. The village in the Paznaun Valley, with 1,500 residents and 12,000 beds, is the region’s party center. Organizers call it a lifestyle, while critics call it “rowdy tourism for the mountains.”

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