BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 16:17 GMT
Europe's deserted ski slopes
Les Get
Les Get suffered from lack of snow

Many European ski resorts are experiencing a slow start to the season with half empty slopes and the industry facing a sharp fall in revenue.

It is in part due to economic fears and a growing uncertainty about war with Iraq and the terrorist threat.

There is also a tradition of skiers and boarders not going away soon after the festive season after the expense of Christmas and fears about cold weather.

It has fuelled fears about a long-term decline in skiing and snowboarding across the Alps.

Skier Paul Cherry
Paul Cherry says it's a great time to go skiing

Among the French there has been a 15% drop in the market in the past six years.

Some fear the skiing market may have peaked, and that the growth in snowboarding over the last decade has hidden an underlying fall in winter sports holidays.

"The skiing industry needs to work hard to attract more people to the sport and keep the ones it has," says Cate Langmuir, editor of The Good Ski Guide.

"We must encourage people to ski outside the traditional times of Christmas, half term and Easter."

Bargain hunters

In an effort to attract people to the slopes some holiday companies are slashing the cost of holidays with British holiday makers able to get a week in France for as little as 99 this month.

"We have many vacancies," says Pip Brockman the manager of Crystal Holidays in France and Switzerland. "There has never been a better time to come to The Alps as there is great snow and few people taking advantage of it."

Cate Langmuir
Cate Langmuir: Ski industry must work hard

In Chamonix the runs have been deserted for several weeks with little queuing, although at the weekend many locals have come out to enjoy the conditions.

"This is a great time of year to come," enthuses Paul Cherry who is in France on holiday with friends. "We've had great snow conditions and very few other people are around to enjoy it. January is a really under-rated month for skiers and people are missing out if they choose to ignore it."

In Tignes and Val D'Isere the conditions are just as good.

"British people should look at January as the time to come," says Emilie Bussiere from the Tignes Tourist Office. "We have the best conditions here, at this time of year, for a decade."

Lucky skiers

This season the skiing industry has been damaged by a poor Christmas and New Year.

Many low-lying resorts had very bad snow conditions, which ruined the holidays of many and is causing them to think twice about skiing over Christmas.

Les Gets, a resort in the Portes du Soleil that is becoming increasingly popular with British skiers had a dreadful time over the festive season with no snow in the village or the lower slopes.

The resort was forced to slash its lift pass by 40% in an effort to attract people. But now it has excellent conditions.

"I am here for a holiday with my husband and children and it feels like we have the resort to ourselves," says Val Holdich.

"We are having a great time here in Les Gets but it must be costing the resorts very dearly in lost revenue as there is no-one else around."

See also:

05 Jan 03 | Europe
27 Jan 03 | Europe
18 Nov 02 | Europe
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |