WTSS readers say ESF should back off

21st January 2013, by Abi Butcher

The ESF claims tour operator ski guiding is threatening its livelihood

The ESF claims tour operator ski guiding is threatening its livelihood

Where to Ski and Snowboard readers say they believe the Ecole du Ski Français (ESF) has no right to interfere with ski guiding that tour operators offer their clients.

UK tour operator Le Ski is the first British tour operator to be prosecuted for the use of its ski guides — employees that show guests around the mountain.

The ESF argues that such guiding is unsafe — saying that some companies are taking clients off-piste — and that it poses a threat to its livelihood, claiming some guides are giving clients instruction.

Le Ski managing director Nick Morgan appeared in court in Albertville earlier this month to defend his company’s right to show clients around Courchevel without teaching and without going off-piste, and will learn the outcome of the case on 19 February.

But in a poll we asked Where to Ski and Snowboard readers what they thought, and 74% have said the ESF had no right to interfere. A further 17% said tour operators should only employ qualified instructors. A smaller number (4%) said it is a job for local ski schools, and 3% said only if local ski schools agree.

Of the 167 votes cast in the poll, 2% of respondents said they didn’t have a view.

Former ski guide Mark Thompson worked for a UK company based in the resorts of La Chapelle D’Abondance and Chatel in the Portes du Soleil.

“I guided guests around the mountains and taking them, dependent on their standard of skiing, to the best runs in the area without them having to dig out their piste maps to find where the runs went, how to get back and wondering how difficult they may be,” he told WTSS.


These guests did not want lessons and consequently therefore the ESF were not losing business and income. 
I did not teach these guests but did take them on gentle off-piste within sight of the pisted runs. 
I was also able to reserve tables at restaurants for lunchtime.”

Mr Thompson added that the company he worked for advertised the services of a ski guide on their website by way of enticing customers to stay in the chalet and contact hotels — which he believed ultimately brought skiers into the resort, to buy lift passes, hire skis and spend money. 

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