Surge in Ski Bookings to France As Covid Border Rules Eased

The news that France is now open for vaccinated skiers and snowboarders travelling from UK has led to a spike in bookings and enquiries. Ski holidays in France are back on and it seems there’s a huge pent-up demand, though some are angry at the ban in the first place.

The French government has lifted its ban on non-essential travel from the UK with effect from Friday 14th January.

The decision was announced just 24- hours earlier as we reported at the time on PlanetSKI:

Although there are still some restrictions in place, the decision means it’s now possible for fully vaccinated travellers from the UK to head for the slopes in the French Alps and Pyrenees.

They are also able to drive across France to reach the ski resorts in Austria, Switzerland and Italy.

PlanetSKI is heading across France on Sunday to its winter base in the Aosta Valley, Italy.

We were there in 2020 as the pandemic spread and we’re looking forward to driving back.

The Aosta Valley, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

UK ski operators, airlines, train services and ski hire companies immediately reported a big surge in bookings and enquiries.

Skiers and snowboarders who can are ready to change their plans and travel to France as soon as possible.

And the resorts can’t wait to welcome them back.

“Yesterday was a record sales day for Crystal Ski Holidays, with bookings not just well up versus the previous day, but way ahead of pre-pandemic levels,” a spokeswoman told PlanetSKI on Friday.

“65% of bookings were to France and 22/23 January departure dates are the most popular (when we re-start our operations to France).

“The demand is definitely there and people are wanting to get back to the mountains just as soon as they can.”

It’s a similar picture at the chalet specialist, Ski Beat.

“The phones started ringing the moment the news came through that France had opened its borders for British travellers” said Laura Hazell, Sales & Marketing Director for the company.

“At the same time, we were on a tight deadline to put in fresh food orders for our ski chalets and organise staff rotas, all of which had to be done within just an hour of the French Government’s announcement on Thursday.

“Yesterday was undoubtedly one of our busiest days ever.

“At the same time as we were bringing skiers the good news that Saturday’s departures from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester could go ahead, we were fielding an unprecedented number of calls from skiers, wanting to make new bookings with us.”

Just a week ago, Ski Beat was still busy cancelling last weekend’s departures.

Ski Beat resort, Plan Peisey, Les Arcs, France – photo c/o Ski Beat

However there are some PlanetSKI readers saying they will now shun France after how the authorities have behaved, and the ban on the Brits with all its confusion and heartache.

Scott Green – Shove it !! I’ll go where I’m wanted ! They’ve lost my custom forever.

Ryan TG Lewis – It’s a ‘non’ from me too.

All the ski resorts in the Isère region are ready to welcome British skiers.

“We were before the Christmas holidays, so now more than ever and we are so happy and excited. This is great news,” said a spokeswoman from the region.

“The snow is here, the weather is perfect with cold air… the conditions are exceptional.”

  • This weekend there are more than twenty flights planned to Grenoble Alpes Isère airport.
  •  The weekend of January 22-23, it expects more than 24 UK & Irish flights with 21 flights from the UK and 2 flights from Ireland.
Isère. Image © PlanetSKI.

Isère. Image © PlanetSKI.

Club Med has gone as far as to say the opening up of the border has saved the season.

“After two years away from the slopes, Brits are desperate to get back to France and some of the most loved ski domains in Europe – and this is the final barrier to be removed,” Estelle Giraudeau, Managing Director, UK & Northern Europe at Club Med, said.

Club Med reported a 60% increase in web traffic following the confirmation on Thursday that the ban was to be lifted from Friday.

“We hope that governments now focus on a stable and predictable set of rules moving forward that will get the world traveling again.”

Inghams and Esprit, part of the Hotelplan UK group, say they plan to restart their French ski holidays from Saturday 22nd January.

“Bookings have doubled over the last two days and we are delighted that over half of these have been for ski holidays to France,” the CEO, Joe Ponte, said on Friday afternoon.

“With France being our key Esprit family holiday destination  – and normally accounting for around a third of Inghams’ winter programme—the French government’s latest update means, finally, the many skiers and snowboarders hoping to enjoy the French slopes with us this winter will be able to do so.

“While we are of course continuing to monitor the situation closely, we’re thrilled for all those now able to look forward to their French ski holiday again and our in-resort teams are excited to welcome guests back to France.”

Skiing with Esprit, the family specialist – photo c/o Esprit Ski

Craig Burton, the Managing Director of the specialist agent, Ski Solutions, has welcomed the fact that the ban on travellers from the UK has “at last” been lifted.

“Whilst we cannot undo the enormous damage done to the wintersports industry from this entirely illogical closure, it doesn’t stop us jumping for joy that it has been overturned,” he said.

“Conditions are fantastic across the Alps right now, and we are delighted we can get our skiers and boarders out to enjoy the mountains once again.”

Cervinia, Aosta Valley, Italy

Cervinia, Aosta Valley, Italy. Image c/o Ski Solutions.

The rental company, Intersport, that has shops across the Alps and the Pyrenees, says it’s seen a spike in bookings.

“We are obviously so happy that the French border is now back open, which will give quite a lot of certainty to people whose holidays fall in the rest of January and the remainder of the season,” said the international marketing manager of Intersport, Chris Moran.

“We just hope that this is the end of the travel chaos for both the stress it’s placed on our customers, the uncertainty for our shops, and our own customer service team’s sanity.

“We’ve been talking to thousands of our customers through social media and our customer service platforms and we want to thank everybody for their patience in refunds, or bookings moved to other resorts or other countries.

“Some poor customers have had to move several times and it’s been a headache for us all, but we’ve stuck together and made it work.”

Image c/o Intersport

The transfer company Ski-Lifts also reported  “a huge surge in bookings”, as have the airlines, Easyjet and Jet2.

The new Travelski Express, which offers holidays by train to six resorts in the French Alps,  said it would finally begin operating at the end of January.

The first departure from London St Pancras will be on Friday 28th and guests are being offered a free upgrade for that date, subject to availability.

Travelski Express. Image © Eurostar

Travelski Express – Image © Eurostar

Eurostar says it will increase the frequency of its services in coming weeks.

French ski areas are hugely popular with British skiers and snowboarders.

Many of the resorts usually welcome more people from Britain than any other foreign country.

Not surprisingly they’re breathing a sigh of relief at the relaxed travel rules.

“We look forward to receiving our British guests once more,”  Marlene Giacometti, Director of Les Menuires Tourist Office told us.

“We are ready, as we always have been, with our systems in place for a safe and wonderful ski holiday.

“The snow is incredible and the sun is shining, come and enjoy our slopes, everyone is welcome.”

Les Menuires. Image © PlanetSKI

Les Menuires. Image © PlanetSKI

Nathalie Guidon, Directrice of Arc 1950 Le Village, said they had missed their guests from the UK.

“The Village is ready to welcome you all back and we have an exciting programme of events each week for the rest of the winter season,” she told PlanetSKI.

“We plan to stay open until Saturday April 29th so we have plenty of time left this season to welcome skiers back from the UK; our ski-in/ski-out village, surrounded by many slopes, is waiting for you!”

The Portes du Soleil ski area, which straddles the French-Swiss border and includes Morzine, Avoriaz and Les Gets, said in a statement that it was delighted with the news.

“The start of this year’s season began with short-lived travel restrictions in Switzerland before France closed its doors to UK holidaymakers in December,” the statement added.

“The news this week that travel to the region has now fully resumed for the vaccinated has been greeted with enthusiasm, with the prospect of a late mountain getaway now firmly back on the cards.”

MAIN PHOTO:  Ski Beat Chalet Vallon Blanc, La Tania  c/o Ski Beat

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