Tour operators increased their share of the ski market for the third consecutive year last season, the Crystal Ski Industry Report 2012 finds. Packages including lift passes, equipment and catering proved popular with consumers seeking good value and financial certainty. The top eight ski operators’ market share increased to 86% (up 1%) of the total tour operator market.

The 2011/12 season faced another challenge due to the ongoing economic environment with the overall number of skiers declining by 16,200 year on year (1.8%). It reduces the number of skiers travelling abroad to 894,700 in 2011/12 (down from 1,227,000 at the peak in 2007/8).

Crystal Ski strengthened its market leadership last season by 1% to 33% due to its value-for-money Ski Plus packages. Thomson Ski saw a marginal decrease of about 1000 skiers. First Choice saw a fall in its customers from 10,000 to 7,000 as a result of strategic repositioning. However, TUI Ski remains the clear market leader with 41% share, up from 40% last year.

Hotelplan’s 3.7% reduction is mainly due to continued consolidation following the merger of Inghams with Ski Esprit and Ski Total. Thomas Cook owned Neilson remains in third place with a 6% decline in skiers.

The schools and student market showed the biggest fall (by 4.1% to 117,700, down from 122,700) mainly due to the economy as families struggle to pay for their child’s first ski experience on a school trip – which has been attributed as being the biggest single source of new skiers according to new YouGov research, commissioned by TUI Travel PLC.

The independent travel sector also experienced a reduction in volume for the fourth consecutive year with a decline of 1.2%, predominantly as a result of the continuing increase in flight and ski carriage costs.

France continues to be the most popular country with British skiers, accounting for 34.6% in the 2011/12 season. This shows an increase in market share for the first time in three years (up from 32.5%) and is due to the higher number of half board options and all inclusive packages available.

Austria’s market share rose to 27.9% from 26.7% due to the phenomenal snowfall early in the season.  Italy’s share increased from 14.1% to 15.4% and Andorra rose marginally to 6.5%. This is the country’s third year of growth, despite poor snow early in the season. Skiers are enticed by the good quality hotels, combined with inexpensive holiday prices.

Switzerland’s drop in share to 4.9% (from 6%) is due to the unfavourable exchange rate and the continued struggle against the perception of a high cost holiday destination.

North America’s 4.5% share has dropped slightly as tour operators continue to adjust to the reduction in some flying routes by airlines.  Bulgaria also saw a fall to 2.7% as did the smaller countries’ sector (to 4.6%).

Resorts are again investing heavily as the fight for customers in a contracted market intensifies.

Simon Cross, Managing Director Crystal Ski, said: “The ski market has been resilient despite challenging market conditions. Tour operators regained a marginal share of the overall market due to their ability to produce exceptionally good value ski holiday packages.

“In 2011, an increasing number of skiers turned to online channels to research and book their holiday. We expect this trend to continue into the next season and beyond.”

– END –

To view the report, please click here



The Ski Industry Report 2012 includes all information available on the winter sports industry into one unified report. The sources include tour operators’ own statistics, Snowsport GB data, CAA published statistics, tourist office figures and travel agency feedback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *