The decline in overall numbers can be attributed to the economic climate and the weak pound, although the report suggests that the excellent snow conditions may have influenced more people not to forego their wintersports holiday. Additionally the report discusses a returning confidence to the industry and last season’s great snow acting as a catalyst for more people to start skiing again or go for the first time.
A 2% rise in the tour operator market means it now makes up 79% of the overall market. This increase is at the expense of the independent sector, which now sits at 21%. It seems more skiers favoured a package holiday as this enabled them to know the upfront cost of their holiday. The increased cost of flying at peak times with no-frills airlines, and ski carriage charges, may also have impacted the independent market.
France continues to dominate the UK snowsports market with a 43% share – this has stayed static from 2007/8. Austria increased their market share by 2% and Italy and Switzerland both saw a 1% increase in market share which meant there was a small decline in visitors to the USA and Canadian resorts and to Andorra and Bulgaria.
The report goes on to identify the rise in the average cost of a snowsports holiday, going from £664 (per person) in 2007/8 to £686 in 2008/9. The pound’s weakness against the Euro and Swiss Franc meant that there were increased costs for holiday companies which in turn were passed on to the consumer.
Caroline Stuart-Taylor, Chief Executive of the Ski Club, commented on the report: “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.”
Other findings from the report include:
• Skiers make up 79% of the snowsports market and snowboarders 18%.
• The ski weekend decreased by 5% with the market share for a seven day holiday rising to 81%.
• Market share for the train as a transport method to get to snowsports holidays increased 1% year on year to 6%.
• The catered chalet maintains its dominance in the UK snowsports market with a 37% share of the market.
• 45% of the snowsports market is made up of females, and 55% males.
• Scottish resorts received just over 5,000 fewer visitors than the previous season, but Cairngorm Mountain, Glenshee and The Lecht all saw an increase in skier days.