While the growth of great offers on cheap holidays in ski resorts across eastern Europe has been good news for consumers, certain specialist operators in the winter sports sector have taken a more gloomy view, with some saying that the number of heavily discounted skiing and snowboarding holidays is threatening their livelihoods.
Independent companies are being out-gunned by larger tour operators who have the capacity to cut prices and offer flexible deals which take into account the moveable feast that is the ski season. This year is particularly hard as New Year’s Even and New Year’s Day take place over a weekend, meaning that skiers and snowboarders are postponing or cancelling their usual trips so as not to have to travel at these times. Among many winter sports specialists, the New Year week has remained resolutely unbooked – a situation made only worse by the fact that a lot of UK schools are starting term as early as 3 January, which means that winter sports holidays just after Christmas are appearing even less desirable.
Specialist ski operator Richard Sinclair told Travelmole that “while skiers are benefitting from ever more eye-watering discounts, it’s the smaller indie ski companies who are suffering.”
“The big boys can afford to make a loss for a few years but, with small business struggling to secure borrowing, many small ski firms are finding things very hard. Prices are the lowest we’ve ever seen them and you can currently pick up an early January ski holiday for what were previously only available as ‘last minute’ prices.”
The only light at the end of the tunnel for the smaller operators, Sinclair noted, was that these cheap holidays on the piste were being snapped up fast and would not last, causing prices to stabilise later in the year. Of course, this will be of cold comfort to any companies that have gone belly up in the mean time.