On an up­ward slope

COOL­ING OFF: Af­ter the long hot sum­mer, thoughts are turn­ing to­wards a win­ter that’s look­ing good for skiers says Jeremy Gates.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Travel -

E might have just en­joyed this coun­try’s long­est heat­wave in seven years, but cer­tain mem­bers of the travel in­dus­try are al­ready turn­ing their thoughts to cooler climes.

TUI Ski, the big­gest op­er­a­tor in the ski tourism mar­ket, has said more than 900,000 Bri­tons are set to head to the slopes for the com­ing win­ter sea­son.

This marks a mod­est but very wel­come re­cov­ery for an in­dus­try hard hit by the re­ces­sion – in the 2007/8 win­ter sea­son, just be­fore the eco­nomic col­lapse, 1.2 mil­lion Brits took a ski hol­i­day.

Ian Davis, prod­uct di­rec­tor of TUI Ski, which has mar­ket lead­ers Crys­tal and Ski Thom­son among its largest brands, is feel­ing pos­i­tive. “Around 200,000 ski hol­i­days are al­ready sold for next win­ter, with many cus­tomers keen to stretch their money as far as pos­si­ble – with half-board ac­com­mo­da­tion, bet­ter qual­ity ho­tels, and if pos­si­ble, lift passes in­cluded in pack­ages.

“The cost of trans­fers from air­port to ski slope is an­other key is­sue; big op­er­a­tors can ar­range this more cheaply.”

There is also the prospect of a fierce price war on de­posits to help skiers: Cos­mos, launch­ing its first ever win­ter sports pro­gramme based on Monarch sched­uled flights to Mu­nich, Friedrichshafen, Inns­bruck, Verona, Venice and Greno­ble, is ac­cept­ing de­posits of just £59 on book­ings by Septem­ber 30.

Many op­er­a­tors also of­fer dis­counts for early book­ings by the end of Au­gust or Septem­ber: VIP SKI, spe­cial­is­ing in chalets in Val d’Isere and St An­ton of­fers break from £99 per per­son per night in early De­cem­ber. For seven days of qual­ity ski­ing in Europe, hol­i­day­mak­ers are likely to pay around £650 this win­ter, in­clud­ing trans­fers, half-board ac­com­mo­da­tion, and tour rep in re­sort. Lift passes, in most cases, cost ex­tra – but price rises have been held to a min­i­mum in re­cent years.

Davis ex­plains: “We are hav­ing to make ski pack­ages re­ces­sion-proof to of­fer bet­ter value. In ad­di­tion, ma­jor re­sorts in France like Les Arcs 1950 have dras­ti­cally up­graded fa­cil­i­ties for self-cater­ing hol­i­days in re­cent years. In Aus­tria, there’s great value to be found on fam­ily half-board pack­ages in fam­ily-run ho­tels – while in Switzer­land, the govern­ment move to cap ex­change rates to 2011 lev­els has proved very ef­fec­tive.”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Crys­tal Ski, France is the most pop­u­lar coun­try for Bri­tish skiers, tak­ing 34.8 per cent in 2012/13, while Aus­tria’s mar­ket share rose to 28.2 per cent from 27.9 per cent.

MAK­ING TRACKS: The ski­ing in­dus­try is see­ing signs of re­cov­ery af­ter be­ing badly hit by re­ces­sion, as Bri­tons ven­ture back to the slopes.

SUITE DREAMS: Two nights in Las Vegas is in­cluded in Bon Voy­age’s two-cen­tre deal.

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