Bumper 2012/2013 Ski Season for Europe
While in the United States snow skiing resorts are dealing with the economic impact of reduced snowfall, in Europe resorts have experienced a bumper 2012/2013 snow sport season with good early-season snow kicking the season off in style. The global recession hit Europe’s ski resorts hard, with 2009 experiencing a 13 percent drop in snow sport enthusiasts hitting the slopes according to the Ski Industry Report by Crystal. The decline in 2010, 2011 and 2012 was not as drastic (10%, 5% and 1.8% respectively), but nonetheless businesses suffered as holidaymakers tightened their belts. The 2012/2013 season, however, was reminiscent of pre-recession days with skiers and boarders turning out in large numbers and right through to the end of the season. The final figures detailing just how successful the season was will only be available in mid-April, but reports from ski resorts throughout Europe indicate that the snow sport industry is well on its way to recovery.
Among the resorts reporting increased business is St Anton in Austria which experienced a 20% increase in the month of January, making the resorts investment in infrastructure worthwhile, especially as the area received plentiful snow. France also experienced a good season, reportedly primarily due to offering value for money packages. Many ski tour operators working in Europe also introduced discounted package tours, some of which included flights, accommodation, tuition, lift passes and equipment hire. Some also offered skiers significant discounts for booking early, pushing an early start to the season, and being a turnaround on the last-minute deals of the past.
Although it is unlikely the snow sport industry in Europe has experienced a complete recovery in one season, advance bookings for 2013/2014 indicate that skiers and snowboarders intend to make the most of the icy conditions Europe has been experiencing. It was interesting to note that there was no significant growth in packages offered to beginner skiers, suggesting that the increased business over the 2012/2013 season was due to seasoned skiers returning to the sport. Moreover, it has been noted that this trend is benefiting not only the high-altitude resorts – Val Thorens and Tignes in France for example – but also the relatively low-lying resorts such as Ellmau and Söll in Austria.