Ski Holidays Trend Report

The ski industry is back in growth, Crystal Ski Report finds

To read the report, please click here.

The UK ski industry is set to rise again. The overall ski market increased by 1% last winter, the first positive growth after four seasons of decline, the Crystal Ski Industry Report 2013 finds. Tour operators and the independent travel sector experienced a 1% rise with packages including lift passes, equipment and catering proving popular with consumers seeking good value and financial certainty. However, the schools market encountered a further decline of 2% year on year.

The 2012/13 season finally turned the corner due to fantastic snow across European resorts, a ‘good calendar’ for Christmas and New Year departures, and an early Easter holiday in March. The overall number of skiers increased by 5,000 year on year (+1%) increasing the number travelling abroad to 899,700 in 2012/13, the first increase of numbers since the peak in 2007/8.

The top seven ski operators’ market share remained stable at 84% of the total tour operator market. Crystal Ski strengthened its leadership last season with a 1% rise in market share to 34% helped by its value-for-money Ski Plus packages as well as inclusive and early booking offers. Thomson Ski saw an increase of about 3000 skiers. TUI Ski remains the clear market leader with just over 41% share, same as last year.

Hotelplan’s increase to 26% (up 1%) of the total tour operator market is mainly due to Inghams rebuilding their portfolio following heavy reductions in preceding years. Esprit and Ski Total also increased their share marginally. Thomas Cook owned Neilson remains in third place with just under 12% and an 15.8% decline in sold holidays during the year.

The student market increased slightly due to good value packages, however, with a variety of different school trips now competing with the traditional ski trip, and pressure still being exerted on families’ disposable income the schools market has again declined year on year. The combined school and student market reduced by 2% to 115,700.

The independent travel sector also experienced a marginal increase in volume of 1%, predominantly as a result of more flight options to the Alps, notably Geneva as well as Jet2 and Easyjet into Grenoble airport. 

France continues to be the most popular country with British skiers, taking 34.8% in the 2012/13 season, an increase in market share from 34.6% due to improved self catering accommodation and ‘added value’ offers.

Austria’s market share rose to 28.2% from 27.9% due to growth in newly linked ski areas and well priced packages especially in smaller resorts. Italy’s share slightly decreased from 15.4% to 15.2% as Neilson reduced capacity into Turin. Andorran resorts capitalised on market demand for value with its share rising marginally to 6.6%.

Confidence returns to Swiss ski holidays as the Swiss National Bank continues to cap its exchange rate and the ongoing marketing investments pay off. Increase from 4.9% to 5.5%.

USA continues to see a decline especially in Colorado, whereas Canada grows market share through exceptional marketing campaigns and differentiated offers. In total, North America’s 4% share has dropped from 4.5%. Bulgaria also saw a fall to 2.4% due to Inghams withdrawing.

Scandinavia’s growth to 1.3% is fed through additional flights to Finland and the increase of skiers who also like to peruse other snow related activities than skiing.

Simon Cross, managing director Crystal Ski, said: As anticipated, last year the decline in the ski market has now bottomed out and we are starting to see signs of recovery and growth. However, we cannot rest on our laurels and need to continue to deliver exceptional value, innovation and great service if we are to see the market return to pre-recession levels. 

With initiatives from Snowsport England, the indoor ski centres in the UK, our own first time ski or board promotions and the efforts of resorts in Europe and beyond, there is a real focus on attracting new or lapsed skiers to the market.  This focus, combined with the additional exposure that the Winter Olympics in Sochi will bring to the sport, should ensure that the growth that we experienced last season is the start of the recovery.”


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The Crystal Ski Industry Report 2013 includes all information available on the winter sports industry into one unified report. Sources include tour operators’ statistics, British Ski and Snowsport (BSS), airport passenger figures, published CAA statistics, tourist office data including the Observatoire National des Stations des Montagne and travel agency reporting.

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