In these uncertain times, we all have many questions. While of course, health and safety always comes first, many of us will also find ourselves wondering about how the Coronavirus pandemic will affect our future plans. For those of us that love the mountains, this includes next winters’ ski holiday, which you may or may not have paid for. There’s certainly confusing information out there – some outlets are reporting that certain ski resorts already re-opening, while others are suggesting that resorts may remain closed for the entirety of the next season.
So what do we know about the impact Coronavirus will have on future ski holidays? A recent survey of UK snowsports industry professionals has revealed the real impact of COVID-19 on the ski industry, as well as thoughts on how the virus will continue to affect skiers and their holidays next winter.
The survey, conducted by Ski Press and Skipedia, found that COVID-19 has caused reduced sales, staff losses and concerns about staying in business, but has also found that most companies believe ski resorts will open next winter.
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 and 17% of respondents have had to make redundancies too.
However, there is some positive news.
Whilst 64% of companies 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.
What’s more, 85% of ski industry professionals believe that ski resorts will open for the 2020-21 ski season, although a large proportion (70%) of those think it will come with social distancing regulations. Only 1% believe that ski resorts won’t open at all next winter.
When asked if they themselves would be prepared to travel to ski resorts as soon as allowed, then 94% of them said they would. What they are less sure about is whether the general public will feel the same way. 40% believe that the public may not be as confident.
Rob Stewart from Ski Press, said: “It’s not surprising that ski industry professionals want to remain positive right now, but this shows how resilient they are considering recent events.
It’s going to be interesting to see how tourist destinations deal with social distancing, but we know that’s not the full story – UK skiers will need to travel overseas. But it’s clear from this survey that the attitude of people that work in the industry is very much one of ‘if I can travel, then I will’. I think that will be music to the ears of the travel industry as a whole”.
The research was conducted online from 24-29 April, 2020. Sectors represented by respondents included tour operators, travel agencies, retail, brands, ski slopes and media.