UK Skier Numbers Up 7% Last Season
July 12, Great Britain (Snow Hunter)--The UK's annual Ski Industry Report has been published by leading tour operator Crystal. The Report notes that the British ski market recorded one of its strongest periods of growth last winter, with seven per cent more UK skiers taking a ski holiday abroad than the previous winter.
More than 1.15m ski holidays were bought in 2005/06 - 40 per cent more than in the mid-80s, a period often regarded as the hey-day of British skiing.
The ski industry has seen regular growth every year this decade, but last winter's peak confirms a stronger than expected trend and is the largest single-year growth since the winter of 2000/2001.
The continued rise in the number of independent travellers remains one factor behind this growth, with an eight per cent rise from 330,000 to 356,000.
Low-frills airlines increased the number of passengers they carried to ski destinations to 947,000, just above the levels of 2003/04. Regular scheduled airlines saw slight growth to 1,150.000, while those carried by tour operators rose from 400,000 to 430,000, mainly due to a late Easter adding extra capacity.
The rising popularity of America and Canada is clearly attracting skiers, up by 30% last winter. This is partly due to easier and cheaper accessibility, with the twice-weekly Crystal Denver charter playing a significant part.
France remains the most popular ski destination, taking 36.3% of UK skiers, up by 0.2%, while Austria maintained its share of the market from the previous winter of 20.1% as the UK's second most popular ski destination. Switzerland grew (by 0.4%) as did Bulgaria, Slovenia, Serbia and Finland. Andorra and Italy lost market share.
Some destinations were significant losers: Italy remains in third place at 14%, but suffered a massive fall from 15.7% the previous winter; and Andorra, in fourth place at 11.9%, fell from 13.7%.
The Report notes that there will be challenges for the ski industry this coming winter such as high fuel costs and a late Easter. But there are significant upsides: not least, the strength of the pound against the dollar promising further growth of the US and Canadian markets.
The ski and snowboard overview amalgamates information from tour operators' own statistics, AC Nielson's TravelTrack market research, CAA published statistics, tourist office figures and travel agency feedback. It's available online.