The current high rates of coronavirus infections around the world that has led to ski areas being kept closed or only open to locals, international borders being sealed and travel being all but impossible at present for “all but essential” reasons has led some to fear winter 20-21 is now a complete write off.
Others disagree and still hope that ski holidays will be able to happen later this season. Crystal, the UK’s largest ski holiday company, have announced they’ve suspended ski holiday sales but only until 12th February so far, whilst Inghams have done so to 27th February.
“We are still taking bookings for Easter and will review and update customers in line Government advice,” a Crystal spokesperson told InTheSnow.
However tour operators are also increasingly switching their holiday sales focus to winter 21-22 when it is hoped the vaccines will have been fully rolled out and the COVID 19 threat will be largely behind us.
“Early-booking demand is good and 90% of the enquiries we are getting at the moment are for next season,” confirmed Craig Burton , boss of ski holiday specialist travel agency Ski Solutions.
This is being confirmed by other companies, some trying to encourage bookings, particularly for peak periods, by warning that on top of pent-up demand from those who have been unable to go skiing due to the various virus-related travel issues and resort closures there’s also a sizable number of people who have kept their bookings postponed from last spring or earlier this winter and are now positioned to switch to fill space when holidays can finally go ahead.
“Customers who have a specific holiday in mind, or are fixed to certain date (particularly high season) to book early, as holidays are selling particularly fast, with many people eager to get away as soon as it is safe to do so,” lone tour operator explained.
Lapland in Finland is proving particularly popular for 21-22 it seems. Inghams say their sales for next winter are succeeding their usual numbers when compared with the same period year on year. Around half the Inghams Lapland programme has already sold-out, the company says, encouraging the tour operator to start the 2021 winter season earlier to keep up with demand.
Crystal report a similar trend, “Current booking patterns suggest that customers are more confident about next season with sales for winter 21/22 up significantly. This is not just customers transferring their holidays, but also new bookings being made. Destinations like Lapland/Finland are proving to be incredibly popular,” said the company’s Lauren Ayres.