Last season better than expected
Tuesday 17 July 2007
Figures released today by Britain’s biggest Tour Operator, Crystal, show that the winter of 2006/07 was not as bad as some people had predicted.
Poor snow in Europe and negative press reports had led many to believe that less people would be skiing but the Crystal Ski Industry Report shows the British market grew by 3%. It was less than the year before (6.9%), but still an increase.
The annual report is widely regarded as the most accurate set of figures to be released by the Ski Industry.
However, many of those holidays were booked in advance so people were unlikely to cancel and this year early sales are reported to be slow, especially to Austria, a country that was hit last winter by bad snow levels.
FRANCE STILL MOST POPULAR DESTINATION
1.19m people from the UK now go skiing; 682,000 with tour operators while 376,000 travel independently using the now frills airlines; making their own transfer and accommodation arrangements.
Of these skiers and boarders the vast majority (37.1%) go to France. Austria is in second place but its share of the market fell last season from 20.1% to 19% and in third place is Italy with 13.8%.
The United States and Canada have 7.9% of the market but surprisingly the USA’s share only grew by 0.1% despite reports of poor snow in Europe and good snow in North America.
“The slow down in the growth rate of the ski market was just a blip and not a fundamental change to the established growth pattern,” maintains Gareth Crump, the product director of Crystal.
GLOBAL WARMING THREAT
Climate change remains the biggest long-term threat to the ski industry as scientists predict a rise in temperature that could have a disastrous consequence for skiers and boarders.
However it is far too simplistic to say the temperature will rise and therefore the snow will melt.
Many of the high resorts actually received more snow on their upper slopes last year than the season before. Long-term weather patterns show the season is shifting with more snow falling at the end of the season in March and April than previous years.
Some scientists predict that there will be more precipitation over the next few decades, so although that will means more rain at low altitude it will mean more snow in the high level resorts.
Also increased snowmaking and piste management has meant better conditions on many pistes.
People are also realising that despite climate change there are many other things to do in ski resorts as well as ski. Resorts are now offering people a host of different things from snowshoe walking and husky rides, through to paragliding and ice climbing. Much of the accommodation is being upgraded and fitness and wellness centres are being built so holidaymakers have a host of other tings to do in ski resorts.
More British people are skiing and boarding, there is a growth in buying a second property abroad and a rapid expansion in the weekend and short break market.
Many in the industry remain optimistic that, with continued economic growth in the UK, the British ski market will continue to expand.