UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.
A study of UK snowsports industry professionals conducted by Ski Press and Skipedia have revealed the damage that Covid-19 has had on their business and what they believe the future might hold for next year.
Some of the key findings concluded that:
82% of companies suffered reduced sales due to the premature end to the 2019-20 season, with two-thirds experiencing lower than usual sales for winter 2020-21 so far.
Almost 1 in 5 have made staff redundant and a quarter are concerned they could go out of business.
Although almost all expect ski resorts to open next winter, over 70% expect this to be with social distancing restrictions in place.
With the 2019-20 season cut short, the pressures on UK ski professionals started during March when all Alpine countries started closing ski resorts following the lockdown in Italy. By the middle of March, Austria, France and Switzerland had closed all of its ski resorts and holidays for the rest of the season were cancelled.
60% of winter sports businesses including tour operators and equipment retailers have now furloughed staff members. 17% of respondents have had to make redundancies too.
Whilst 64% are saying they are experiencing reduced sales for next winter, two-thirds expect that it should be ‘business as usual’ this winter, anticipating that they will be able to offer their normal services.
Europe’s oldest ski company, Erna Low Travel, has been bought by university snowsport specialist NUCO Travel for an undisclosed sum.
The sale comes as Erna Low boss Joanna Yellowlees-Bound retires after 37 years in charge.
Erna Low Travel was founded in 1932 by Erna Low, pioneer of the British ski holiday and creator of the British ski chalet party. It features mainly the French Alps but also sells ski packages to North America and the rest of the world.
Founded in 2012, Cheadle-based NUCO Travel has carried over 130,000 of young skiers in its first seven years and is the UK’s leading student ski specialist. It also organises stag, hen and group trips to the French Alps.
Yellowlees-Bound, who has owned Erna Low Travel since Miss Low’s retirement in the late 1990’s, said: “Just as Erna favoured me to take over her life’s work, I am now delighted to pass on the mantle to the next generation, and who better than an innovative and thriving ski company such as NUCO Travel, which I have known since its inception and where I am a minority shareholder.
The acquisition by Hotelplan UK of short break specialist Flexiski from its parent company Travelopia, was announced today for an undisclosed sum.
flexiski has operated tailor-made short-stay ski holidays since 1990, with currently five high-quality chalets and over 175 hotels across 48 resorts in France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Canada and Japan. Quality is a real hallmark of the brand, which has been at the forefront of more tailored, personalised and flexible skiing for over 20 years.
At Hotelplan UK, the brand and team will join the Group’s existing portfolio of activity and experience holiday companies, which includes Inghams (whose range comprises Ski, Lakes & Mountains, Lapland and specialist Italy holidays), family skiing market leader Esprit Holidays, chalet specialist Ski Total, Santa’s Lapland short breaks, self-guided walking and cycling experts, Inntravel and small-groups Adventure travel specialist, Explore Worldwide.