A complete closure of the tunnel during the winter months could also result in a sharp decline in the tourism industry as with 30 kilometres of skiing slopes the town of Airolo caters for around 100,000 tourists each season.
Livio Lombardi, politician and board member of the ski lift association "Funivia del Gottardo", fears significant losses. "Tourism is the future of our region," he said in an interview.
According to Lombardi, many people used to be employed by the state in the region, however, a lot of these jobs have been cut over the last few years.
The Gotthard tunnel is expected to remain closed for several months.
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