UK ski market dipped last winter

UK ski market dipped last winterThe number of ski holidaymakers last winter dipped by 3.6% mainly as a result of a late Easter, according to the Crystal Ski Industry 2014.

The annual report showed a fall in the number of skiers and snowboarders from just under 900,000 in 2012/2013 to 867,700 in 2013/2014.

The late Easter- Easter Sunday was on April 20 – meant many resorts could not operate when the UK market had its main school holidays.

The biggest fall was in the independent travel sector – a drop of 5.8% to 253,400 skiers, down from 269,000 – as some low-cost carriers reduced capacity to ski destinations at the end of the season.

But the tour operator sector was also hit, with total volumes down by 2.8% to 500,500 skiers year on year, and fewer trips taken during the milder temperatures of Janaury and March as well as the late Easter period.

Crystal Ski managing director Tamsin Todd said: “Whenever there is a late Easter it makes it tough for the ski market. We knew it was going to be hard going into it because of that.”

France topped the table as the most popular ski destination for last winter, despite a drop of 1.3% on the previous year, taking a 33.5% share of holidaymakers last season. Switzerland enjoyed an increase of 1% taking its share to 6.5%.

However, Todd remains “cautiously optimistic” about winter 2014/2015, in part due to an increase interest in snow sports thanks to the Sochi Winter Olympics, a recovering economy and an early Easter in 2015.

She added that families were showing early interest in booking their ski holiday for this winter to ensure they got the resort and dates they wanted as a result of problems with taking breaks out of term time. “Families want to secure their holiday in the peak period in the place they want to go to,” she said.

The operator also revealed that all its 700 ski reps overseas will have iPads with custom-built software this winter, allowing them to offer a pre-departure video call with customers to answer any questions or ensure their needs are met in advance.

Todd said the company had learnt from sister company Thomson Holidays, which has introduced iPads to its overseas staff, but had built separate software specifically for the ski market.  “We have focused the technology around ski scenarios so we can reassure customers or for example make sure the right size of ski boots are waiting for customers so they don’t have to queue up,” she added.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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