Latest research from Mintel finds that the on going problem of climate change spells a possible meltdown for the ski industry.
Lower lying ski resorts are already experiencing changes in weather conditions, with many seeing little or no snow fall in recent years. Abondance in France closed its ski runs last year, with an estimated 20 other resorts in this region also on the brink of closure, says the report.
In Scotland, the ski industry is also struggling with scarcer snow, according to the Ski Club of Great Britain, which reported that Scottish skier days have fallen dramatically from 366,000 days skiing since the 2000-2001 season to 78,700 in 2006-2007.
This consumer research is based on a sample of 2,020 adults aged 16 and over.
“Although the popularity of snowsports continues to grow, much of the fragile local environment that ski resorts thrive in is under severe threat from development and global warming. And the effects of climate change mean that today's easily accessible, low lying resorts may in fact become a thing of the past,” says Richard Cope, senior travel analyst at Mintel, a global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence.
“With many skiers simply not prepared to miss out on their annual fix, we are likely to see committed skiers increasingly choose long haul destinations, looking to higher resorts for guaranteed snow and glacier skiing. But the increase in numbers descending on these more remote destinations may bring its own environmental problems for the surrounding areas,” he adds.
Cope says that ski operators must be seen to be doing something towards environmental issues that dramatically affect skiing.
“Green resorts and hotels will appeal to the eco-warrior consumer, who will pay for the honour of 'green skiing'. Meanwhile, other holiday-makers will be pleased to hear small steps, such as using solar power, are being taken to ease their conscience,” comments Cope.
Rail also offers an opportunity for ethically and ecologically sound ski travel, with the potential added bonuses of comfort, space for equipment and a scenic approach. This year, more tour operators than ever are including trains along with other travel options.
Indoor, or dry slope skiing, could present an alternative to flying abroad for a skiing holiday among British travellers. The number of indoor ski slopes in the UK continues to rise with around 80 artificial slopes, and for a more authentic experience, there are five indoor real snow venues across the country.
“Although indoor skiing presents a real opportunity for the ski industry, there is a danger that it could just become another out of town leisure park activity like bowling. To make sure this works, it is vital that indoor ski venues maintain the connection with real skiing holidays. Companies could look for sponsorship from ski tour operators, while skiers could even be given the opportunity to build up loyalty points and discounts for a future ski trip,” said Cope.
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