News Headlines     |     


UK ski market grows
Sunday July 14, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

After 4 years of sharp decline the number of people taking a ski holiday has risen slightly. The figures are revealed in the annual Crystal Ski Industry Report. It is good news for the industry but not time to open the champagne.

Last winter the overall number of skiers increased by 5,000 from the season of 2011/12, according to the report.

899,700 people from the UK went skiing or snowboarding - a rise of 1%.

It was the first increase in numbers since the peak in 2007/8 when 1.22m people from the UK took a winter holiday to the mountains.

The snowsports industry has taken a battering since the economic downturn of 2008.

With people tightening their belts the ski holiday has been one of the first things to go.

Now the decline appears to have halted. However this is mainly accounted for by a 7% rise in bookings from people living in London and the South East.

In our opinion at PlanetSKI this is one of the key figures from the report, albeit buried away in the middle.

In many other parts of the country the number of people going skiing has fallen.

Bottoming outBottoming out












"As anticipated, last year the decline in the ski market has now bottomed out and we are starting to see signs of recovery and growth. However, we cannot rest on our laurels and need to continue to deliver exceptional value, innovation and great service if we are to see the market return to pre-recession levels," said the managing director of Crystal SKI, Simon Cross.

He was speaking at the launch of the report at the Crystal building in London on Monday.

At PlanetSKI we believe any return to the pre-recession levels is a long way off and it will require a slow step-by-step approach rather than a quick recovery.

The Crystal Ski Industry Report uses a number of sources and claims to be the best set of publicly available figures.

"The figures quoted cannot be taken as absolute but, because of the breadth of sources used, are believed to be as balanced and accurate as possible," said the report.

Here at PlanetSKi we have contacted some of the other major and specialist operators and they are critical of the amount of sources used and the quality of the figures provided.

They also criticise that the report is then used as a primary source of information by some journalists without caveats to its accuracy.

The report covers a number of other areas - which countries we choose to go to and how the tour operators have done.

It also looks back at the winter past and what may lie ahead.

Here at PlanetSKI we previewed the report in this story over the weekend - it is always interesting to see if we were right or wide of the mark.

What do you think?Wink

So, what about the other significant details and trends in The Crystal Ski Industry Report 2013?

Crystal presentsCrystal presents













France continues to be the most popular country with British skiers, taking 34.8% of market share  - a small increase from 34.6%.

The Crystal report said this was due to improved self-catering accommodation and 'added value' offers.

During last season France suffered from bad publicity with its decision to stop British holiday companies offering ski hosting and also publicity surrounding the arrest of a long-serving British ski instructor who was arrested and kept in custody overnight.

This may have an impact for next season as operators report clients to be disappointed about the ski hosting decision.

At the news conference after the release of the report it was the subject most people were interested in. Crystal said its holidaymakers were asking about it and it would influence the decision of a few.

Austria's market share rose to 28.2% from 27.9% due to growth in newly linked ski areas and well priced packages, especially in smaller resorts.

Italy's share slightly decreased from 15.4% to 15.2% as Neilson reduced capacity into Turin.

Andorra built on market demand for value with its share rising marginally to 6.6%. We visited Andorra last winter and believe it has much to offer as its comeback continues

In one surprising set of statistics the Swiss market rose from 4.9% to 5.5%. Here at PlanetSKI we thought it would decline again. One major operator has even discussed cutting Verbier from its programme due to poor demand.

The report claims that the confidence has returned to Swiss ski holidays as the Swiss National Bank continued to cap its exchange rate and the ongoing marketing investments pay off.

The USA saw another decline especially in Colorado.

Canada grew its market share through targeted marketing campaigns and differentiated offers. 

Overall North America's share of the UK market dropped from 4.5% to 4%.

Bulgaria also saw a fall to 2.4% as the beginner market continues to be under pressure.

Scandinavia's growth to 1.3% has been helped through additional flights to Finland and its attraction as people like to peruse other snow related activities than skiing.

Here at PlanetSKI we visited Norway last winter to experience the variety of winter activities it has to offer.

With Crystal returning to the country next season we predict it will increase its UK market share over the coming winters.

Country by countryCountry by country












So, what about the tour operators themselves - who proved most popular?

The top seven operators took 84% of the total market. 

Crystal Ski strengthened its leadership last season with a 1% rise in market share to 34%.

Thomson Ski saw an increase of about 3,000 skiers. TUI Ski remains the market leader with just over 41% share, same as last year.

Hotelplan, that owns Inghams, Esprit Ski and Ski Total, increased its market share to 26% - that's up 1% on the previous year.

Last week the company gave its assessment of the market as we reported in this PlanetSKI story.

One of the company's that fared the worst was Neilson owned by Thomas Cook. It saw a 15.8% decline in sold holidays sold for last winter. It remains in third pace with just under 12% of the total UK market.

The area of most concern for the industry as a whole is the lack of beginners and young people taking up skiing and snowboarding.

If left un-addressed it will mean problems for the future as the new skiers today are the future.

The combined school and student market fell by 2% to 115,700. We will be reporting on this worrying development in a later story here on PlanetSKI.

The other cause for concern is one we reported on in earlier in this article. The increase in the market is really only happening in London and the South-East.

Here is a brakedown of the exact regional figures, that is not in the published report.

London & South East: +7% (+ 34,000)
South West: -8% (- 4,500)
Wales: - 98% (- 1,600) - loss of BMIBaby
Midlands: -4% (- 2,400)
North West: +1% (+ 1,000)
Yorkshire & North East: Flat
Scotland:  Flat
Northern Ireland: - 2% (- 300)

Regional variationsRegional variations














We will be updating this story with reaction and further detail later. There will also be a video interview with Crystal, so do check back for those later here on PlanetSKI.

Most members of the press were interested in the ski hosting issue that we have reprted extensivley on PlanetSKI. Crystal admitted it could have an impact next season with perhaps a fall in visitors to France.

In the meantime many in the ski industry will be putting on a pubic show of optimism as finally the UK market has finally risen after decline in recent years.

However 1% is small and many problems and challenges remain.

Our content editor, James Cove, was at the press launch on Monday and gives his assessment of the report in this related PlanetSKI story. He has some reservations.

Verbier under snowHas the corner been turned?













If you wish to have a copy of the report please send an email to and we will shortly have a link to it over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page that also has some comments and reaction to its findings.

The Ski Industry Report 2013 includes all information available on the winter sports industry into one unified report. Sources include tour operators' statistics, British Ski and Snowsport (BSS), airport passenger figures, published CAA statistics, tourist office data including the Observatoire National des Stations des Montagne and travel agency reporting.

For the spirit of the mountains

Related Articles

US indoor slope faces more delays (Wednesday October 30, 2019)
FANCY SOME SKI STATS? (Monday October 7, 2019)
SKI FLIGHT FREE IS LAUNCHED (Thursday October 3, 2019)
UK SKI INDUSTRY EMBRACES GREEN (Monday September 30, 2019)
SNOW-CAMP WINS TRAINING AWARD (Tuesday August 27, 2019)

With thanks to our main sponsors...

Platinum partners

Bronze partners