Brexit uncertainty sees UK skiers reconsider trips to European resorts

Brexit uncertainty sees UK skiers reconsider trips to European resorts

   October 26, 2018  
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Brexit uncertainty sees UK skiers reconsider trips to European resorts

The trend for there being both winners and losers in the great big Brexit chronicle continues, this time with a report suggesting that it could be ski resorts outside the EU and tour operators offering all-inclusive ski holidays making the gains.

The latest annual ski report from Club Med, which sells all-inclusive ski holidays that include essentials like ski hire and lift pass, is the result of a survey of 1,000 members of the UK general public in August, of which 700 were skiers. One in four of all those surveyed said they would be more likely to take a skiing or snowboarding holiday outside the EU after Brexit. Two main reasons were cited, namely fears that holidays will be more expensive in the EU and that British passport holders may need visas to travel to the EU post-Brexit.

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Two thirds of skiers believed Brexit would change their holiday booking behaviour in some way, and also that they would spend more while on holiday as a consequence of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Three quarters of all respondents were concerned about currency fluctuations in the light of Brexit.

Operators’ costs

These Brexit concerns are not the first to affect UK tour operators. In 2017 three small independent operators went bust after Article 50 was triggered. The UK’s intention to leave the EU caused sterling to weaken against the euro, and the operators’ costs in resort to rise to an untenable level.

They also follow reports that if the UK can no longer benefit from European free movement of labour post-Brexit, up to 25,000 seasonal jobs in the UK tourism industry could be lost, which could push the cost of ski holidays up further.

But skiers and snowboarders are a resilient bunch, with 84 per cent of the skiers surveyed for the Club Med report saying they are still likely to go on a winter sports holiday. And when it comes to choosing a holiday company, 57 per cent of all the people surveyed considered all-inclusive ski holidays to be more appealing, as long as food, accommodation and ski essentials like lift pass and lessons are included.

Club Med’s booking data backs up the findings, with sales for next winter already up 11 per cent year on year, including in EU countries. This continues the growth the company experienced last year, when it reported a 35 per cent increase in bookings in 2017 compared with 2016. With an all-inclusive full-board holiday, some of the uncertainty about currency fluctuation is taken away because the holidaymaker has paid in advance for things like lift pass, lunch and lessons, rather than waiting until they arrive in a ski resort.

Continuing expansion

“Despite the economic outlook casting a shadow on much of the travel industry with Brexit, Club Med continues to see strong year on year growth and we have ambitious expansion plans in the ski market,” said Estelle Giraudeau, managing director of Club Med UK and Northern Europe.

“Over the course of the next three years we are set to move into the ever expanding and popular Canadian ski market as well as continuing expansion in Asia, with a new ski resort in China.”

“We are also set to refurbish and upgrade three of our resorts [the operator calls its hotels ‘resorts’] across the Italian and French Alps as well as build three brand new ones. We don’t have any plans to slow down our ski expansion despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit,” said Giraudeau.

Within Europe, the Club Med survey found that France remained the most popular destination for UK skiers in 2017/18, with 28 per cent of people holidaying there. The company is opening a new property in Les Arcs in December 2018, and is planning openings in Tignes and La Rosière.

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