After four years of contraction the UK ski industry returned to modest growth last year. That was the message from the annual Crystal Ski Industry Report, presented by Simon Cross – Managing Director of Crystal Ski – in London on July 15.
According to the company’s figures the number of Brits taking ski holidays rose from 894,700 in 2011-12 to 899,700 in 2012-13.
That’s a rise of less than 1%: and 2012-13’s figure is still over 300,000 lower than the 2007-8 peak of 1.23 million. But the report also revealed more vigorous growth in the South-East, where the number of ski holidays taken rose by 7%. The North-West also saw growth, while demand for ski holidays dropped in Northern Ireland, Wales, the South-West and the Midlands.
Aside from the recovering economic fortunes of London and its hinterland, several other factors helped ski companies, according to Cross. These included the heavy snow in early December, which served as great pre-season publicity, excellent late-season conditions – and a helpful calendar. Last season, Easter was early and both Christmas and New Year fell on week days rather than at the weekend (weekend festivities in recent years have caused considerable disruption to booking patterns).
Bookings for next winter are up, too
There are signs that the recovery is acquiring momentum, too. Several tour operators have reported a big jump in early bookings for the 2013-14 season. Most spectacularly, demand for Consensio’s luxury chalets in May and June was up 56% year on year. Powder White also estimates a 30% jump in bookings and Hotelplan (which owns Inghams, Total and Esprit) reckons demand is up 10-20% across its brands.
Meanwhile, VIP reports demand is up 10% for its upmarket chalets with over 3,000 skiers already booked in for a holiday.
And Cosmos has launched its first-ever ski brochure
Another sign of returning vigour in the UK market comes from Cosmos – Britain’s largest independent tour operator. It’s part of the group that owns the airline Monarch, and has just launched its first ever ski holidays brochure. The move comes after a limited trial last winter, and is designed to support Monarch’s winter flights to skier-friendly airports – which include Friedrichshafen, Grenoble, Innsbruck and Verona.
Check out our latest ski deals blog for news of early-booking ski holiday discounts.