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Ski industry reacts to Brexit
Friday June 24, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

The result of the referendum has sent shock waves across the world & ramifications will be felt in our world of snowsports. In the days leading up to the vote there had been widespread support among the UK ski industry for Remain. UPDATED

The industry had warned of a sharp downturn in the wintersports industry caused in the first instance by a falling exchange rate and then by potential changes to free trade, the movement of labour and working regulations.

The first has come about with the pound crashing since the result was announced.

The other worries will play out, or not, over time.

We reported of the concerns and views ahead of the vote in this earlier story on PlanetSKI.

Here we post reaction from across the UK snowsports world and will continue updating this article.

Nick Williams, Director of the chalet company, Mountain Heaven, told PlanetSKI "today was a "s**t day", and the result was "terrible news" for the country and the ski industry.

"We had already worked on contingency plans just in case this happened," he said, "and IF we are unable to easily employ British nationals in the future then we will move the company's base to France and employ EU nationals to be catered chalets hosts.

"We need to remember there are many good Greeks, Poles, Portuguese, Italians and even French etc who all speak good English and would make excellent chalet hosts.

"The model may have to change and, of course, due to much higher employment costs in France, the costs of a ski holiday would have to go up in the long term. This would be a shame as that would mean the loss of 40 British jobs and of course Corporation tax to the government."

There is a crumb of good news for customers of Mountain Heaven.  A few months ago, the company bought all the currency required for most of its fixed costs, such as chalet rents, to protect itself from financial meltdown.

"For the next 30 days we are holding our prices whatever happens to the Pound and indeed are offering a 5% discount as well for the next 30 days on all bookings," Nick said.

"We guarantee the price of the holiday will not change once customers have booked, unlike many large companies that can impose surcharges."

Nick said Mountain Heaven would survive, albeit maybe in a different format.

"I have not built up my company from nothing over the last 13 years to have it destroyed," he told us.

Katie Waddington, a director of Zenith Holidays, told us she was in shock and disappointed, but the task now was to make the best of it.

"Clearly not the result we were hoping for and, like many of the people in the financial markets, neither was it the result we were expecting," she said.

"We - and our politicians - need to engage positively with the outcome to ensure that we make this as positive as we can.

"Critically for the travel business this will include maximising the ability of free movement in and across Europe.

"As regards the longer term, it will depend on the outcome of these near term negotiations.  We will remain positive that our European suppliers will work collaboratively with us for mutual benefit."

SnowSkool Director, Phil Purdie told PlanetSKI he was a little surprised by the result, given the recent momentum for the Remain camp.

"Personally, I am disappointed as I liked the global sense of community that the EU represented for me," he said. 

"Many of the best experiences I have had in my life have taken place on my travels throughout the world - the ski world and the non-ski world -  and I can't help but feel this decision will be the next in a long line of curbs on that freedom for my children.

"What is more, I feel that problems such as climate change can only be resolved by bodies such as the EU that are not on a short-term mandate and answerable to big business.

"In my working life, as a Director of SnowSkool and The Chalet Company, the initial reaction was super-negative - the expected change in the freedom of movement of workers throughout the EU is likely to have an impact on the prospects for SnowSkool instructor trainees looking to work in Europe and, for The Chalet Company, our ability to employ fantastic hosts from the UK to work in Europe will be in the balance over the next few years.

"Financially, our costs will rise as we take money in GBP and pay out in other currencies. We will do what we can to swallow these cost increases and not pass them on to customers."    

But Phil told us he also believed there would be opportunities in adversity to foster more relationships outside of the EU to help people find instructor work, and also to employ EU nationals to look after chalet guests. 

And he struck a positive note for the longer-term.

"I don't foresee any massive negative effects for the future of the snowsports' industry," he told us. "We have been trading since 2003 and the potential banking crisis in 2008 struck more fear into me than the UK leaving the EU."  

Xavier Schouller, the Managing Director of Peak Retreats and Ski Collection specialist holidays to the French Alps, offered reassurance that nothing would change in the immediate future.

"There will be a period of two years for the remaining Member States to offer the UK a deal for a future trading relationship," he told us a few hours after the result became known.

"Until this process is completed, all will remain as it is now. British people will still be able to travel freely in Europe and all the travel benefits associated with the EU - financial protection, access to free healthcare, roaming charges, open skies meaning choice, compensation for flight delays, bringing back goods -  will remain during that time.

"For sure there are worries and uncertainties about what happens afterwards but at least we will have a bit of breathing space."

Nick Morgan, Managing Director of Le Ski - told PlanetSKI "Having worked in Europe for 34 years we are very disappointed in the result of the referendum but life - and ski holidays - go on! Nothing will fundamentally change for a couple of winters we think. In the short term, however, Le Ski's special offers end on 1st August so our advice is to grab a bargain chalet holiday while you can."

Linley Lewis, Director of Basecamp Ski and Snowboard, which provides courses for instructors told us "The referendum results are a real shame, as being a member of the EU brought a lot of benefits to the ski industry. By taking ourselves out, there's now a lot of uncertainty for businesses in the UK operating across Europe and this forthcoming winter will certainly have its challenges.

"Saying that, it is business as usual for us as we continue to provide opportunities for aspiring ski and snowboard instructors in Europe and around the world. Here's to a roller coaster of a few months or years!"

Cheapflights managing director, Andrew Shelton - said the result will throw the spotlight on many benefits British travellers have taken for granted, such as the European open skies agreements which have allowed budget airlines to thrive, a robust UK currency and the end of mobile data roaming charges.

"However, holidaymakers shouldn't assume that Brexit means all that will be lost. The UK travel market is vital to the economy of many European countries and regions,"

"It will be in their interests to seek ways to maintain the status quo. We believe a lot of effort will be made in the coming months and years to ensure the UK cash cow isn't put out to pasture."

He urges  the industry itself not to panic, saying he doubts a Brexit would be as bleak as some in the industry have forecast. "The Referendum sparked a great deal of debate and soul searching within the travel industry, which some would say is defined by one of the key benefits of the EU itself - the free movement of people.

"Everyone from home working agents to the airline CEOs contributed to the conversation, and it's been fascinating to observe.

"The focus must now switch to what life in a post-EU world actually looks like. Will it be as bleak for the industry as some have forecast? We doubt it, there is too much value locked up in this market for that to happen. But certainly, those who have planned most effectively, which are operationally most nimble and which are best adapted to change, will be the ones to succeed."

Mark Brigham, the managing director of Ellis Brigham, UK's Snowsports retailer told PlanetSKI - "Personally and professionally I am concerned for the short and long term cost of this decision. The decision to leave will put financial question marks on an industry that is reliant on ski resorts in Europe and the US. This morning we have already seen the £'s value drop which means snowsports holidays have increased in price by as much as 10% although I think this will stabilise in the coming days but this is one more shock on top of a decision that was a bit of a surprise!"

The British Association of Snowsports Instructors Following the outcome of the EU Referendum of the 23 June 2016, the Board want to lay out the position of the Association now that we know the UK Government will be making plans to implement Article 50 under the Lisbon Treaty. Article 50 formally lays out the mechanism for withdrawing from the EU.

Prime Minister, David Cameron indicated this morning that he will be resigning and he has given a three month timescale for the Conservative Party to find a new Leader prior to their Conference in October 2016. Furthermore he said that it would be the responsibility of the newly appointed Prime Minister and their Government to initiate Article 50.

So what does Brexit mean for BASI and its Membership? 

Working Rights for Members remain the same for as long as we are in the EU. The UK is still in Europe for the foreseeable future. 

This is likely to be for a further two years from when Article 50 is notified by the UK Government. (see Article 50, Clause 3). It may be sooner if they can conclude a withdrawal agreement before that date.
Whilst we are still a Member of the EU working rights within the EU will remain the same as they are now.

BASI Qualifications and their recognition worldwide remain the same.

BASI qualifications are recognised throughout the EU and worldwide. The validity and recognition of your qualification will not change when we leave the EU. BASI’s initiative to align all BASI’s qualifications will also ensure that there is worldwide academic & employer recognition of our qualifications and their validity will not be eroded.
Going Forwards:

Securing working rights for BASI Members in the EU and elsewhere is a key issue for BASI.  Going forwards, BASI will be working closely with relevant UK government officials, local MP’s and our MEP’s to ensure that the BASI UK citizens’ circumstances are well understood and can be considered in any withdrawal negotiations.

In addition, BASI will be contacting EU countries where we know Members are working with a view to ensuring bilateral working agreements are put in place when and where they are required. BASI has the funds, resources and expertise to continue to ensure that the qualifications continue to be recognised around the world.

Dan Fox, Managing Director Ski Weekends told Planetski: "Skiweekends has grown by 500% through the last recession, we’ve seen the exchange rate vary from 1.02 to 1.53 Euro on the last 10 years.  We will continue to offer the largest choice of ski short breaks available in the UK, we still believe that adding more than 20 new resorts this year is the right move for our customers  Fortunately we already pay our chalet workers in line with French minimum wage, so do not see this as a threat to our customers enjoying our chalet holidays.; although we recognise that many operators will be very concerned by this.  Inevitably any change in the exchange rate will be reflected in the price of our holidays and the costs for skiers when overseas.

During the last recession we saw more skiers choose short breaks and we have consistently outperformed a flat ski market, we are confident that people will still want to ski and that we are ideally placed to offer them flexible option which meets their needs whatever their budgets."

Fritz Joussen, CEO of FTSE 100-listed TUI Group that owns Crystal SKI. "The EU without the UK is barely conceivable but we respect the democratic decision of the British people and trust the UK government will take all steps necessary to ensure economic and political stability and to ensure that British holidaymakers will not be affected by the UK´s decision to leave the EU.

TUI Group has highly professional risk management processes which have taken into consideration all possible scenarios. We are well prepared and confident that TUI Group as a truly global company will not be significantly affected by the decision. It remains to be seen how the decision will affect consumer sentiment."

Philippa Smith MD at Silver Swan Recruitment - providing staff for luxury chalet market. "We are shocked at the Brexit result and are unsure at this stage as to the effect it might have on the ski industry. We are not concerned as to the feasibility of UK citizens working in Europe as we are sure the visa system will be fairly straight forward but we do expect the cost of employment to increase once staff are employed on local contracts. However we are confident that no major changes will take place within the next 2 years so we are looking forward to a busy couple of seasons ahead, a perfect time for anyone considering doing a ski season to come and do one before any changes are implemented.'

We will be updating this article shortly. 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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