Gstaad debates cheap ski pass privileges
Annual ski pass prices are flirting with the SFr 1000 mark this year. Local residents are not up in arms though: they benefit from lower prices. So when Niki Rommel, a Saanenland émigré, called for the removal of these privileges in the Anzeiger von Saanen a few weeks ago, he ruffled some feathers (see Leserbrief: Einheimische sollen weiterhin Rabatt auf Skiabos erhalten (German only)). A stream of responses argued that low prices should be understood as a token of gratitude for the ongoing local commitment from the ski-lift operators. Further, in their various roles local residents continuously secure Gstaad’s success – an effort that ought to be recognized. Fair enough. Yet it is unclear why Gstaad Mountain Rides should feel obliged to finance these externalities.
The differential is more plausibly explained as an attempt to take relative purchasing power between local residents and the guest community into account. The lift operators may simply be trying to segment their market, using Marketing 101 pricing strategies to boost sales. Alternatively, the pricing regime may be an entrenched fossil which no-one dares to touch. Our recommendation: move your tax-base to Saanenland, pay just 1.4% in local taxes, and get a cheap ski pass.