British skiers want ski hosting

14th July 2013, by Abi Butcher

British skiers are not booking lessons with the ESF after its court action against Le Ski

British skiers are not booking lessons with the ESF after its court action against Le Ski

Switzerland, Austria and Italy are set for brisk business over the 2013/14 ski season, thanks to the current ban on ski hosting in France.

So said Andy Perrin, head of Inghams and sister operators Ski Total and Esprit Ski, reporting last week that ski guiding is top of the agenda for UK skiers and snowboarders.

In February, a court in Albertville ruled that Le Ski was acting illegally by offering ski hosting in France. Le Ski, along with a group of British ski tour operators, are appealing the ruling, but for this season ski hosting — or “social skiing” as it is now called — has been withdrawn from their programmes in France.

“The Ecole de Ski Francais (who supported the action against Le Ski) think they have done the right thing, but if they came and answered our telephones and spoke to our clients they’d understand something completely different,” said Mr Perrin. “And as a result of this case, customers are telling us to book ski lessons with any other company but not the ESF.”

Ski hosting or “social skiing” is defined as: “where a representative from the holiday company takes guests on familiarisation tours of the slopes, show them good lunch spots and how to avoid queues. They do not go off-piste. No instruction is given.”

Mr Perrin said ski hosting is very popular among customers of Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski, whose clients are asking specific questions about where they can enjoy the service for the coming season.

Austria, Italy and Switzerland will all have ski hosting this year,” he confirmed.

Le Ski is appealing the decision taken in Albertville in February, and the case is due to be heard in Chambery in November. A group of 12 British tour operators — Alpine Elements, Crystal Ski, Inghams, Le Ski, Mark Warner, Neilson, Esprit Ski, Ski Olympic, Ski Total, Skiworld, Thomson, VIP Ski — are assisting with the appeal, which is expected to reach the European court of appeal.

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