ABTA warns skiers to buy ski holiday packages

27th March 2019, by Abi Butcher

ABTA warns: buy your ski holiday as part of a package, with flights, for ATOL protection

ABTA warns: buy your ski holiday as part of a package, with flights, for ATOL protection

Skiers and snowboarders are being reminded of the importance of booking package holidays that are ATOL protected, to ensure they will have protection in the event of the collapse of any business.

The warning comes following the demise of Ski Val, which has operated chalets in Val d’Isère and St Anton for the past 43 years. While no information has yet been released on why Ski Val ceased trading last week (13 March 2019), speculation within the industry is strong that Brexit may have played a part.

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said: “Booking a package holiday provides the best form of protection for your travel plans. Not only are you entitled to a refund or to be brought home should your travel company go out of business, but you also benefit from additional legal protection should there be a problem with your holiday.

“It’s worth remembering that a package holiday can be tailor-made to your requirements — it’s not what you do or where you go that makes it a package, rather how it is booked. However, whatever your package holiday involves, they will all have the same level of protection.”

Ski industry research that was released in November (see our news story here) reported a rise in the number of skiers putting together their own trips, using the likes of Airbnb — but doing so will not allow them any protection if any part of their trip is cancelled.

Ski Val was licensed to carry 4,170 ATOL-protected passengers and last week released the following statement on its website: “It is with great sadness and after 43 years operating in the ski business we are extremely sorry to inform you that Val-Ski Ltd has ceased trading as of today, 13th March 2019.”

The company was ATOL protected, and worked with the ATOL Crisis Management team to get skiers home who were overseas at the time of the company collapse, and deal with those skiers and snowboarders due to depart from 16 March 2019 onward.

Angus Kinloch, managing director of Ski Line commented: “An ATOL bond is clearly the best way to ensure you don’t lose out when a travel company fails, but ATOL only protects consumers booking a package holiday with flights.  Many skiers and boarders prefer to book just accommodation and book their own flights or drive to the ski resort. This is where the consumer is likely to lose out in the event of the company going into receivership.”

Both he and Nick Morgan, managing director of Le Ski, told Where to Ski & Snowboard that Brexit has had little or no impact on ski holidays sales — with both companies reporting strong demand for ski holidays both over Easter and for next winter. 

“A lot of independent travel companies have made less profit over the past few years for a variety of reason including currency exchange rates and that credit card processing charges can no longer be passed on — plus a few years of poor snow have dampened demand for holidays at the start of the season,” said Mr Kinloch. “Chalet operator costs are set to increase further as staff costs after we leave Europe will increase significantly after Brexit.”

ABTA has warned that if you buy a ski holiday that is ATOL protected, it’s important to keep safe the ATOL Certificate you are given at the time of payment. And, if you’re worried about the effect Brexit may have on your ski holidays, the spokesman added: “The most up-to-date and accurate advice for holidaymakers about travel and Brexit, which can be found at abta.com/brexit.”

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