Four UK Tour Operators Cancel All Ski Holidays in December
10th November 2020 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on November 16th, 2020
Inghams, Ski Total, Esprit and Flexiski have announced they will not be running any ski trips this year, including over the Christmas period. The UK’s largest operator, Crystal Ski, says it still plans to operate in December.
Hotelplan UK, which owns the four operators say it’s been an “extremely difficult decision” but necessary because of continuing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hotelplan UK says it is “still hopeful that we will have a ski season this winter”.
The group’s first holidays were due to depart the UK on 12th December.
A spokeswoman told us that about 2,000 people who had booked for December will be affected.
They are being offered the chance to rebook for later in the winter or receive a refund.
“Following the commencement of another national lockdown and the continued uncertainty regarding travel restrictions for the remainder of 2020 we have regretfully made the extremely difficult decision to suspend all ski and Lapland holidays departing in December 2020 across our Inghams, Esprit, Ski Total and Flexiski programmes,” said Joe Ponte, Hotelplan UK CEO, in a statement provided to PlanetSKI.
“We know that this will come as an enormous disappointment to our customers, therefore it is not a decision we have taken lightly. Most importantly, the safety of our guests and our staff continues to be our top priority.
“Therefore, with the ongoing restrictions across the UK and Europe, combined with the unpredictable and constantly evolving situation of COVID-19, this is sadly the right decision.
“We are still hopeful that we will have a ski season this winter, albeit with a later start. As the situation with COVID-19 changes, we are constantly reviewing what this means for our winter programme and looking at how we can continue to deliver the ski holidays people want, as safely as possible.
“We have gone on sale early for the winter 2021/22 ski season. For those customers who have been impacted, we hope they will choose to join us then or later this winter instead, but if they would prefer to receive a refund, we will arrange this.
“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience throughout these uncertain times. We also hope to reassure everyone planning to travel with us that we intend to continue do the right thing by our customers with the help of the measures we’ve set out in our In Safe Hands Campaign.”
It comes as another operator, Interski, cancels all its holidays for this winter.
The operator has been working in the Aosta Valley in Italy for almost 40years, but has decided to suspend all operations due to Covid-19.
See here for our story on the news:
The decision by Hotelplan UK and Interski raises questions about whether other ski tour operators will follow suit.
The UK’s largest operator, Crystal Ski Holidays, has already said it won’t operate holidays to resorts where it’s known customers will need to self-isolate or quarantine when they get there or when they get back home.
Crystal Ski is owned by TUI and the company has already cancelled visits to meet Father Xmas in Lapland.
All trips to Lapland from the UK and Ireland have been suspended by Tui as Finland plans to introduce mandatory Covid testing for arrivals.
Crystal Ski has issued the following statement:
“As the current Government regulations in England are in place until 2nd December, and our season kicks off with first flights departing on 12th December, all our ski holidays are still scheduled to operate as planned.
“We’re keeping a close eye on the situation and we will proactively contact customers, if their holidays are impacted, closer to the time of departure and offer them a range of flexible options.
“With still a month to go until the start of the ski season, we’re working hard to remain flexible, so we can react to the ever-changing situation and take as many people to the mountains as we can.
“We know this can be unsettling for customers, so those with holidays this season also have the option to amend their holiday for free to a later date or future season.”
The Inghams In Safe Hands campaign was launched early in the summer to reassure customers of extra safeguards that would be put in place and encourage them to book.
- Inghams Ski Looks Forward To Next Winter
- Hotelplan UK To Close Office & Cut Jobs
- UK Ski Tour Op Buys Flexiski
Inghams is the biggest of the four brands and is planning to operate holidays to 77 resorts across eight countries this winter: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Andorra, Slovenia and Lapland.
It is currently, however, either difficult or impossible for people in the UK to travel to most of those destinations.
Some of them are in lockdown right now with those that had been open for early season skiing either closed or open only for professional snowsports training.
- Italian Ski Areas Head Into Lockdown
- Austria Ski Areas Close As Covid-19 Spreads
- French Ski Areas Close & Delay Openings As Country Goes Into Second Lockdown
Esprit is a family specialist offering child-friendly ski and snowboard holidays to France and Italy.
The decision to cancel all holidays in December will be a blow to those who were hoping restrictions would be lifted in time for a family trip over the Christmas school break.
A festive visit to Santa’s Lapland is also out.
Large numbers of skiers and snowboarders appear to be opting to delay booking a trip until much later in the season, or missing out 2020-21 altogether.
This latest news will do nothing to persuade more people to take the risk and go for an early season trip.