Straddling the Salzburgerland and Tyrolean frontier the project links both regions and connects Saalbach Hinterglemm(SH), a snow sports leviathan with the more modest Fieberbrunn to create the singularly largest ski area in Austria, the 3.5 km extension opening up 270 km of terrain to those arriving from the Tyrol. There is though a cogent argument that Fieberbrunn will notice the biggest difference in visitor numbers once the multitudes patronising the vast choice of pistes in Saalbach Hinterglemm sashay into the Tyrolean town, potentially alienating residents previously unfamiliar with large quantities of hard-partying hedonistic skiers that traditionally congregate each winter in the Glemmtal. By contrast it is debatable as to whether those on the Salzburgerland side will notice any tangible, numerical difference.
Having witnessed firsthand in June and July the cortege of heavy-goods vehicles snaking up narrow mountain roads and a profusion of yellow Liebherr cranes silently cutting a swathe through the muggy air I have no doubt that once more, Teutonic efficiency has again won the day. Such oppressive working conditions that were surprisingly dusty considering the alpine terrain posed many questions of the construction teams, all of which they emphatically answered. A project that only commenced in May has already seen the completion of the requisite concrete work and the process to embed seventeen cableway pillars, the steel work and near hundred feet high cable car supports are also expected to be completed before the scheduled September delivery of nearly 6000 metres of ropeway. Once installed the ten seater gondola will operate between the 1819 m Reiterkogel top station to the Reckmoos South valley terminus that actually sits 200 metres higher than the Hoerndlingergraben middle station. Fieberbrunn’s tourism chiefs anticipate an almost immediate spike in visitor numbers, suggesting skiers prefer areas that provide a larger and more variegated range of pistes. Hoteliers will benefit from the initial bounce in curiosity that the creation of any new or enlarged ski area precipitates although I would again suggest that this venture means more to those in Fieberbrunn than SH, the Tyrolean town and its immediate district currently occupying a less than enviable fourth to last place in terms of productivity value in an otherwise affluent province seemingly awash with money. Whether the elongated Ski Circus arena will create extra revenue for the Tyrol or merely move it away from another area, dividing the cake yet further, remains for the time being very much to be seen.
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