the future of ski

How will Corona virus affect ski holidays?

The uncertainty of how our next ski season will look still hangs like an unsettling valley fog. It is unlikely to clear any time soon. The only thing we are sure about right now is that no-one has the definitive answers. But it’s still helpful to consider and reflect what may happen to be prepared.  In this article we weigh up what we believe is likely to happen in ski season 20/21 assuming no vaccine has been found. 

Travel

The way we travel is likely to change significantly for all trips not just ski. The days of hopping on flights to Europe may well become a distant memory for now. Those visiting Europe are likely be more precious about their trips. So less frequent and higher quality holidays may be one travel trend that emerges. 

Skiers are also likely to look at Self-Drive as a way of reducing contact with others. It may also make their travel plans a little more financially stable. Going by EuroTunnel and ferry may be more secure as ferry companies have freight revenue to balance out summer loss. 

Going by train could be slightly less risky than air from a contagious point of view. Space and movement within trains is marginally less restricted than on a plane, however services and destinations by train are limited.

Many of the cheap flight operators have released their ski season flights early to try and balance loss from the summer. At some point in the near future it’s  likely there are going to be huge changes within aviation as we know it. It’s impossible to say for sure right now but expect some of the following; digital health info/passport checkpoints, health checks on entry and exit, plus we will face possible entry visas and fees as a result of Brexit.

Plane passenger capacity is also likely to reduce significantly which will push prices up substantially. 

Accommodation

The shared chalet is not looking at a great future right now thanks to risk of infection between independent travellers. There may be a surge in people looking for Self-Catering apartments and chalets as they offer greater hygiene control and risk of infection. Hotels and guest houses will probably not lose out as significantly as shared chalets, but will still have to compete more for travellers.

Package versus independent booking 

A knee jerk reaction in unstable times will be sticking to the major players in the package market. Although it may seem the safest option it’s worth considering some larger companies were already struggling pre Corona Virus. They are heavily dependent on summer trade. What they do offer is a fairly low deposit and membership to bodies like ABTA and ATOL. These bodies will make sure that you get your money back if the company folds,  however the time scales for refunds are currently painfully long.

Benefits of creating your our own package

Putting a package together yourself will also be taking a risk but it may in fact be an easier risk to manage. If you  find cheap flights, then look for a low or no deposit accommodation option with free cancellation to go with it.  A transfer can then be arranged later in more certain times. As an example of risk level, if you book a flight for £50 that you don’t end up using, it may be easier to stomach than an £850 loss which you may eventually be able to recover but it may take a long time.

Also bear in mind as it currently stands the travel insurance industry will not be offering policies which cover CoronaVirus. The risk is too high now. 

In resort

Numbers of skiers on slopes and social distancing are things that will be carefully considered in resorts next season. Savvy skiers will also have to look at types of lifts available in resort. Resorts blessed with the humble chairlift may have a rebirth in popularity, those served by one large cable from resort may struggle more. The new reality may include restricted numbers, big queues with bottle-necks  and some may resorts could introduce staggered lift pass hours. Some might also have to consider capping the lift passes sold to avoid big crowds.  

The demise of apres ski has become a talking point, but in actual fact being outside works in its favour although it will now have to be a low key, social distanced affair. No heaving crowds for now. 

The dilemma and conclusion

So for most skiers, next season is all about trying to minimise risk by planning carefully. Putting together a trip and booking now is a huge gamble, but ultimately a well planned trip may end up coming out on top versus waiting. The danger of sitting things out is that you won’t be alone. When and if the situation suddenly changes there will be a big spike in prices as high demand reaps the lost revenue from the summer. 

The conclusion. It’s a risk whatever you choose to do, but taking risks is what skiers and boarders are good at. And if anyone is prepared to take a risk it’s us! We don’t know what might happen and we haven’t even covered an optimistic outlook where Corona burns itself out or a miracle drug or vaccine appears. Here’s hoping….