Ski resorts are preparing for a difficult winter thanks to the Covid pandemic.

With fewer international clients, mountain professionals in France are working to re-engage French holidaymakers after a successful summer.

“The signs are not very positive,” said Caroline Leboucher, general manager of Atout France, last week in Grenoble. 

“It’s a bit of a lottery for the moment,” confirmed Alexandre Maulin, president of Domaines Skiables de France (DSF).

Numbers in resort expecting to fall by a quarter

A survey of people from within the industry predicted an average fall of 26% in visitors this winter, with a recovery in “11 to 24 months” according to Leboucher. 

“We’re not hiding the fact: there will be fewer international customers” added Jean-Marc Silva, director of France Montagnes.

However, historically the international market has represented 28% of the clientele in French resorts, led by the United Kingdom (9%), then Belgium (4%) and the Netherlands (3%). 

Measure for French resorts this winter

The English market is a priority

“The English market is a priority!” said Maulin.

He believes that a simple Covid test would be sufficient to persuade the British to return to France this winter. 

The Secretary of State for Tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, has been lobbied on this issue. As for Belgium and the Netherlands, resorts are hoping for bilateral agreements within the Eurozone to continue. 

The UK government currently has a ‘task force‘ looking into the idea of testing to reduce quarantine. It is expected to report in early-November.

Last second, rather than last minute bookings

This winter Jean-Marc Silva predicts that “last minute bookings will become last second bookings.

He also expects that short stays and flexibility over arrival dates will also be more common.

There will also be a greater focus on the domestic market. This summer the season ended 5% up on the previous year, with one third of visitors holidaying in the mountains for the first time.

Source: France 3