Ski Club survey optimistic

22nd October 2009, by Chris Gill

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The British ski market fell by just 6% last winter, according to the Ski Club of Great Britain – a smaller decline than figures released in earlier industry reports, and a more optimistic outlook for tour operators.

The 2009 Snowsports Analysis report shows a 6% decline in the overall UK ski market, but that the tour operator share rose by 2% to 79%. And 1.27 million people took ski holidays in 2008/09. The annual survey looks at industry trends across all sectors. Data is then compiled from information received from tour operators and transport companies.

The decline in the UK ski market overall is naturally attributed to the economic situation, although good snow conditions and rock-bottom deals seem the most likely contributory factors to a lower than expected figure. And skiers are a hardy bunch – looking for alternative ways to get their snow-fix rather than ditch it.

Packages turnaround?

While there seems to be a difference between the Ski Club and earlier Crystal ski reports on tour operator figures, both put the independent market as falling. The Ski Club says this is now 21% of the market. It seems more skiers chose a package holiday as this enabled them to know the upfront cost of the trip. Rising airline costs and carriage charges may have impacted the independent market recently: the report also highlights a decrease in ski weekends by 5%.

And where do we go?

French resorts topped the Where to Ski and Snowboard price survey last winter, but that doesn’t seem to have made a difference to the 43% share of UK visitors that France still holds – unchanged on the 2007/08 season and double that of Austria. Austria and Switzerland have however increased their share of visitors by 2% and 1%. Visitor numbers to North America and Andorra were reported to have fallen.

Trends this winter?

Chief Executive of the Ski Club, Caroline Stuart-Taylor said: “We are not surprised to be reporting a decline in the overall snowsports market after a really challenging winter season. The ‘credit crunch’ hit at a bad time for the snowsports market, but the ski industry is actually very resilient and we are feeling positive as we head into 2009/10. Already we have seen ski operators offering some excellent early season deals and combined with the industry pulling together to promote the snowsports to both existing skiers and boarders, as well as first timers, we are remaining cautious but confident as we head into the winter season.”

A recent report from tour operator Erna Low suggests that people are still fairly non-committal with plans for the season ahead. Many of their surveyed customers seem to be hoping for last minute deals, but there has been a recent surge in bookings for peak dates such as the February half-term.

Further findings from the Ski Club

  • The catered chalet remains a firm favourite among Brits with a 37% share of the market
  • Market share for the train as transport to the Alps rose by 1% year on year to 6%


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