What do the effects of the financial downturn and the credit crunch mean for your skiing holiday? And what can you do to get the best ski deals?
Rising ski holiday prices
There's no doubt about it, skiing holidays are getting more
expensive. Significant rises in fuel and food prices are affecting
tour operators big and small. Scheduled and low cost air fares are
on the increase and in resort prices remain high because of the
continuing poor sterling / euro exchange rate.
According to Meribel based chalet company Fish and
Pips they are now paying about 25 per cent more on groceries and 30
to 40 per cent more on fuel than before the credit crunch started
two years ago, which has seen them hike their ski holiday prices by
10 per cent. However, Fish and Pips founder Pillipa Eyles argues
'If you look at ski holiday prices in the 1970s or 1980s, in
real terms they were very much more expensive than they are now, so
nobody should really complain that their holiday is now slightly
more expensive when in reality, it was ridiculously cheap
package holidays can still represent better value for
money than travelling independently, with a proportion of increased
costs being absorbed by tour operators in a bid to keep their loyal
customers. However, most ski tour operators are still hurting and
in the long-term increased costs must be passed on to the
Some might be pre-occupied by economic doom and gloom, but not
the stalwart skiers and boarders. They're a steadfast bunch, that
as one 'Snowhead' put it; he 'would rather cut his own ear off with
a rusty saw' than forgo his annual ski holiday.
A spokesman for ABTA (The Travel Association), Sean Tipton,
agreed: 'Skiing has such a loyal market. Even after 9/11, when most
of the tourist industry suffered, wintersports bookings went
So it's no wonder that avid wintersports enthusiasts are
undeterred from taking their winter break - or two, or three - by
the credit crunch and rising costs. In fact, it may be as a
consequence of the miserable economic forecasts and a lousy summer,
that people see a winter holiday as a necessity to escape the doom
Exchange rates, taxes and choice of ski
With the Euro's strong stance against Sterling and the Dollar
also climbing back against the pound, and looking highly
unpredictable, it is the cost of flights that will be the deciding
factor for many UK holidaymakers.
'With the increasing fuel costs, I'd say a ski holiday in Europe
will be cheaper, just because of the taxes on flights to North
America, which have gone up massively. Last year, I would have
definitely recommended the United States and Canada
because of the value you could get for the pound over there' said
Betony Gardner from the Ski Club of Great Britain.
In Europe, skiers wishing to avoid the impact of exchange rates
and higher costs in Eurozone may find that skiing
holidays to Bulgaria, Romania and even Serbia offer
Book with a tour operator or independently?
Will you be booking your ski holiday with one of the big
tour operators, such as Crystal or Inghams,
through a small independent tour operator or doing your own thing
and booking flights, transfers and accommodation independently? If
you are thinking about travelling independently, consider totting
up all of the costs before you go, and see if you can't find a
The giants have better economies of scale and therefore can
offer fantastic ski deals, especially early in the season. Smaller
independent operators also offer excellent value for money partly
because 'they're able to react more quickly to changes in demand,
and therefore adapt,' says Ian Bradley of the Association of
Independent Tour Operators (AITO).
'One thing we have noticed,' says Marion Telsnig of Crystal 'is
a downgrading of budgets, for example from £800 per person to
£700.' It is a no-brainer that to be able to afford their yearly
slice of powdery heaven this winter, the majority of skiers are
looking to cut costs and budget and shopping around to get the best
ski holidays and book online >
independently and book online >
Tips to get more skiing for your money
Book early - especially for high
altitude and snow-sure resorts, as the days of prices falling
closer to the departure date are long gone. Prices will rise late
in the season when capacity is limited relative to demand.
Be flexible - surf the net for the
best ski deals. Some ski tour operators offer free ski lift passes,
free childcare, a percentage off the price, or even 'one goes free'
for larger groups. The ski resorts on offer may not be the one you
had in mind, though. Check out skideal.com, igluski.com, and
directski.com as well as the big tour operators like Inghams,
Crystal and Neilson. See family specialists Ski Esprit and Ski
Famille for 'One child goes free' or even 'Granny goes free'
Avoid fuel surcharge - if you are
going across the pond for your snowy thrills, book yourself on to a
chartered flight, such as the Crystal flight to Calgary, as they
will absorb the costs of fuel surcharges, rather than you if it is
a scheduled flight.
Pay attention to detail - compare
prices of ski holiday options in detail. You'll need to budget for:
travel, transfers, accommodation, ski lift passes, travel
insurance, food, ski equipment hire (unless you have your own) and
watch out for baggage allowances and charges.
Financial Protection - pay by credit
card rather than debit card and if you book with a small tour
operator that's a member of AITO or ABTA, you are financially
protected in case the flight company or the independent tour
operator goes bust. Check the small print for other companies.
Exchange rates - if you fear that the
Dollar or Euro will go up further against the Pound, consider a
prepaid currency debit card, such as the one offered by FairFX
(FairFX.com), which effectively freezes the exchange rate at its
current standing or buy foreign currency well ahead of time if
you're happy with the prevailing exchange rates.
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