Research by Oxford Ski shows how much the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cost the ski industry and what is being done to help businesses and consumers.
- 69% of the ski industry’s resorts have shut as many European and North American nations enter lockdown or enforce social distancing measures
- The global impact of the closures on the ski industry and its suppliers is expected to exceed £154 billion
- Travel firms ask the public to take credit notes instead of refunds, as firms attempt to balance the books amid growing cancellation claims
- UK Foreign Office advises against all non-essential travel “indefinitely”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the globe and ski resorts have closed in response to government interventions and dropping skier numbers, Oxford Ski has taken a look at how much the Coronavirus is likely to cost the ski industry and what is being done to help.
In the average year, 38% of all skiing bookings are from after late February; in which 132 million people around the world would usually be heading to the slopes for the end of the Northern hemisphere seasons and the start of the Southern.
In monetary terms, 132 million skiers represent over £154 billion of revenue for the ski industry and its suppliers, such as airlines, transfer services, and food and drink vendors.
However, as governments and parent companies around the world have reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic, ski resorts were closed rapidly to protect customers and prevent the spread of the virus. For the ski industry and suppliers, this will see an estimated 38% of revenue missing from their books.
Images valdisere.com: Top - Val d’Isere Bellevarde on 17/03/2019. Bottom - Val d'Isere Bellevarde on 17/03/2020
As resorts along the Alps (representing 44% of all skier visits) are now close, due to government lockdowns and interventions across the continent, over £67 billion of revenue is thought to be lost; with ski accommodation companies in the Alps predicted to see a £29 billion fall in revenues.
On the 4th April 2020, the UK Foreign Office released a statement on social media informing travellers that the government body “indefinitely advises against all non-essential global travel”. This is a change from their previous travel ban which ran up to April 16th.
While this might make for negative reading in the short term, in the long term, according to experts at Tourism Economics, it is expected that the travel industry as a whole will recover by 2023; with those in the ski industry feeling confident that the industry will have bounced back even sooner, with bookings still coming in for the 2020/2021 Winter season.
In response to the outbreak and the potential missing income from the travel sector, travel bodies have called for both government and consumer help; to stem the lack and outward flow of cash as the industry as a whole has been grounded.
In the UK, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has asked for an emergency government consumer hardship fund to help fulfil the sheer numbers of refund payments being requested for those who have booked a package; they are also asking that credits should be allowed as an alternative to cash refunds, allowing travel businesses to retain some working finances.
Lastly, ABTA is calling for the current 14-day window for refund payments to be removed, giving companies more time to process and steady the flow of refund payments.
In terms of what could help the industry, travel companies have pleaded with consumers to be patient and, if possible, speak to your travel company to arrange credit for your booking or change to an alternative date.
On the current situation, Rupert Longsdon, Founder of Oxford Ski, comments:
“The COVID-19 virus is not something many would have expected coming into 2020. While we are doing everything we can to talk to resorts and other suppliers, we believe that as an industry we must come together and help consumers as best as we can, providing clear and concise information to those with bookings.”
“At the same time, while it is understandable customers want to know their money is safe, by taking alternative forms of a refund or postponing bookings to later dates, you will help the industry and the many thousands of people that rely on bookings for work.”
“We would advise all customers with bookings for the rest of this season to talk to their travel insurance, tour, accommodation and airline operators, to get up to date information and support as to the status of their bookings and policies on refunds, credit and alternative dates. Those with bookings are advised to print, read and retain their insurance policies carefully.”
“Finally, we wanted to thank our clients and suppliers. We have been overwhelmed by the support of our loyal customers, some who have been booking with us for over 10 years, and as a small team of 30 passionate skiers and snowboarders we’ve really felt touched by their support during this period.”