A recent survey of UK snowsports industry professionals conducted by Ski Press and Skipedia reveals the damage that COVID-19 has had on their businesses and what they believe the future might hold over the next year.
Some of the key findings concluded that:
• 82% of companies suffered reduced sales due to the premature end to the 2019-20 season, with two-thirds experiencing lower than usual sales for winter 2020-21 so far.
• Almost 1 in 5 have made staff redundant and a quarter are concerned they could go out of business.
• Although almost all expect ski resorts to open next winter, over 70% expect this to be with social distancing restrictions in place.
With the 2019-20 season cut short, the pressures on UK ski professionals started during March when all Alpine countries started closing ski resorts following the lockdown in Italy. By the middle of March, Austria, France and Switzerland had closed all of its ski resorts and holidays for the rest of the season were cancelled.
60% of winter sports businesses including tour operators and equipment retailers have now furloughed staff members. 17% of respondents have had to make redundancies too.
Whilst 64% are saying they are experiencing reduced sales for next winter, two-thirds expect that it should be ‘business as usual’ this winter, anticipating that they will be able to offer their normal services.
Perhaps the most positive news for the industry is that 85% of ski industry professionals believe that ski resorts will open for the 2020-21 ski season, although a large proportion (70%) of those think it will come with social distancing regulations. Only 1% believe they won’t open at all.
And when asked if they themselves would be prepared to travel as soon as they are allowed, then 94% of them said they would be, with two thirds stating they would want to see social distancing measures in place at airports and in resorts.
What they are less sure about is whether the general public will feel the same, with 40% believing that they won’t.
Rob Stewart from Ski Press, said: “It’s not surprising that ski industry professionals want to remain positive right now, but this shows how resilient they are considering recent events. It’s going to be interesting to see how tourist destinations deal with social distancing, but we know that’s not the full story – UK skiers will need to travel overseas. But it’s clear from this survey that the attitude of people that work in the industry is very much one of ‘if I can travel, then I will’. I think that will be music to the ears of the travel industry as a whole”.
The research was conducted online from 24-29 April, 2020. Sectors represented by respondents included tour operators, travel agencies, retail, brands, ski slopes and media.
Ski Press is PR and Marketing company specialising in the winter sports and mountain destination travel sector.
Skipedia specialises in digital marketing for the ski industry. It is owned and run by Iain Martin, who also presents The Ski Podcast.