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Tuesday September 6, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

There's some optimism in the ski world after the UK's vote to leave the EU. Short term it has not been as bad as expected, but there are significant longer term worries.

The doom and gloom of the days after the referendum are gradually dissipating and ski companies are reporting that bookings for the coming winter season are going well. 

Some go as far as to say bookings for August are 30% up on the same period a year ago.

Others claim a more modest single figure amount.

It appears to be in stark contrast to the days after Brexit when the phones simply stopped ringing.

In those days in late June some operators rang their own office phones just to make sure the lines were working.

Representatives of the winter sports industry have been giving their verdict on life after the EU Referendum at Ski Launch, a summit held in London today, that was chaired by the PlanetSKI content editor, James Cove.

Cove questionsCove questions














Many are surprisingly upbeat.

Craig Burton of Ski Solutions said the weeks after the June 23 vote were difficult, but business began to pick up in August and he claimed it continued to do so. 

"We have done a lot better than we thought we might have done," he said.

"There is demand out there, particularly at the upper end of the market. Skiers are a resilient bunch."

He said the fall in Sterling - with each pound currently worth less than 1.2 Euros - appeared not to being worrying customers unduly.

"The Doomsday scenario of parity hasn't happened," he said.

However skiers and snowboarders we have spoken to are concerned in the fall in the value of the pound to the euro since the Brexit vote.

The Managing Director of Le Ski, Nick Morgan, agreed with Craig.

He maintained that fears that Brexit would lead to the imminent death of the traditional chalet holiday had been overplayed.

Nick & Liz Morgan, owners of Le SkiLe Ski owners Nick & Liz Morgan













"I get the feeling that the chalet model has been under threat for the last 34 years since we started up," he said, "but we are still here."

Both Nick Morgan and Sarah Searson of Skiworld predicted that chalet-board holidays - particularly those with lift passes included - would become more attractive, since customers paid up front and were protected from any further currency fluctuations.

The Brexit panelThe Brexit panel













There is still concern that uncertainty - as Britain negotiates its exit from the EU - will hit both consumer confidence and the exchange rate, but there is also a sense of resignation.

"There are two main factors in the profitability of a chalet business," said Nick Morgan. 

"One is the currency and the other is snow conditions, and we can do nothing about either of them".

The pound took a big hit after the Brexit vote - a plunge described as a "shock wave" by Christina Weisz of the foreign exchange brokers, Moneycorp.

She told the summit that Sterling went from €1.37 on referendum day - 23rd June -  to €1.16 two weeks later.

But she said that was now history and the situation was not as bad as many had anticipated.

"We had predictions on the 24th of June that the world was going to end," she said.  We were going to dive into the worst recession ever.

"It hasn't happened.  Britain is carrying on.  People are still going on holiday.  People are doing business, exporting and importing."

But she warned against making assumptions for the future, pointing out that the leading banks were currently forecasting wildly different exchange rates by the end 2016.

One believes the Pound to Euro rate could be as high as 1.52.  Another thinks it could plunge to 1.04.

However in private conversations after the public forums many in the industry were slightly less optimistic. And some downright pessimistic - especially over the long-term.

It is feared the uncertainty about when Article 50 may be triggered will cause problems and could lead to a fall in consumer confidence.

There are also deep worries about the free movement of labour as many chalet companies currently rely on hiring staff in the UK and any visa/working restrictions could have significant consequences.

Earlier this week the CEO of Inghams, Andy Perrin, painted a slightly gloomier picture as he outlined problems for the season ahead.

He was concerned about uncertainty, the weaker pound and some difficult dates for the 2016/17 season that sees a late Easter and the traditional transfer day of Saturday falling on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Andy PerrinAndy Perrin















However Andy Perrin was also optimistic.

"It is certainly not all doom and gloom and I am far more optimistic than I was in the days after June 24th. It is by no means as bad as we feared it might be," said Andy Perrin.

Here on PlanetSKI we will have a full report on the presentation by Andy Perrin later in the week.

In the meantime it seems the UK ski industry is putting on a positive face and getting down to business.

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

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