British ski industry starts to bounce back

16th July 2013, by Abi Butcher

Some 899,700 Brits took a ski or snowboard holidaylast season — 1% more than 2011/12

Some 899,700 Brits took a ski or snowboard holidaylast season — 1% more than 2011/12

The number of UK skiers taking a ski holiday grew over the 2012/2013 season, for the first time in four years.

Some 5,000 more skiers and snowboarders took a winter sports holiday last year, an increase of 1% on the 894,700 that skied during the 2011/2012 season. It is the first time the market has grown since its peak of 2007/2008 when 1,227,000 Brits to a ski holiday.

The figures were released yesterday by Crystal Ski and hailed by the company’s managing director, Simon Cross, as the first sign that the UK ski industry is beginning to regenerate.

“It’s modest growth, but growth is growth — people are starting to recalibrate their finances and consider ski holidays once again,” he said. “We have reached the bottom and 1% growth is early signs of a recovery.”

Worryingly for the ski industry, the school market is still in decline, down to just 83,700 from 140,000 in the heydays of 2007/2008. Mr Cross blamed a plethora of alternative trips on offer to secondary school pupils: “Gone are the days when the school ski trip was the only trip abroad,” he said.

Crystal confirmed that Brits still prefer to take their ski holidays in France, which enjoys a 34.8% slice of the market (up from 34.6% in 2011/2012), despite the ongoing ski hosting issue. Austria is second favourite, with a 28.2% share of the British ski market, and third placed is Italy, which has declined slightly over the last season, from 15.4% in 2011/2012 to 15.2% last year.

For the first time in years, more people opted to ski in Switzerland last season, up 4.9% from 2011/2012 to 5.5% in 2012/2013. The figures are backed up by news from Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski last week that Switzerland is more popular this summer than it has been for five years.

It was bad news for North America though — with a decline of British skiers travelling to the USA, though Canada reports slight growth. The two combined take 4.0% of the UK ski market, down from 4.5% over the 2011/2012 season.

“Confidence is definitely coming back to the Swiss market,” said Crystal Ski’s Simon Cross, “but the fall in North America was driven by constrained flights into Denver which has pushed up prices. Canada is better, which is down to a good collaborative approach with British tour operators.”

The Crystal Ski Industry Report 2013 is compiled using information from tour operators, British Ski and Snowsport, airport passenger figures, published CAA statistics, tourist office data including the Observatoire National des Stations des Montagne and travel agency reporting. The term “ski” is a term used to represent the whole winter sports market.

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