Journal: TWUKSection:
Title: Issue Date: 08/10/01
Author: Page Number: 38
Copyright: Other





Flying high: Canadian resorts such as Whistler are preparing for a good season despite the terrorist attacks in the US

Skiing by Matthew Hampton

Future looks bright as bookings recover

Strong confidence in country’s resorts

Despite harder operating conditions than this time last year, ski specialists remain bullish about the coming season as far as Canada is concerned.

The threat of a recession, combined with price hikes forced by a rise in the cost of aviation fuel, and not least the tragedy in the US last month, have so far failed to dent confidence in Canada’s ski resorts, which continue to turn in respectable winter figures.

“We’re not at all worried,” said Ski Independence managing director John Bennet, when asked whether the terrorist attacks would affect the ski market. “Our bookings slowed down in the week of the disaster, but enquiries came back up again. We fully expect to reach our booking targets this week,” he added.

Canada specialist Frontier Ski adopted a similar attitude. Managing director Sandra Potter said: “We’re not hugely worried. Canada will certainly be no worse off than anywhere else – it may even outperform the US this season.

“Of course it is too early to say for sure – a lot depends on what happens in the next few weeks,” she added.

The possibility of a recession is a real threat to the industry, but Potter noted that it was a “huge if” to consider. Prior to September 11, economic slowdown and the exchange rate were considered the top threats to US and Canadian skiing. But John Bennet dismissed the rate of exchange as a challenge to Canada.

“If you’re spending £1,000 on a holiday, which is generally the amount our clients are, then an extra £40 isn’t really going to make much of a difference,” he said.

“The feeling we’re getting from our clients is that a ski holiday is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

According to the Ski and Snowboard Industry Report, combined North American market share was down from 11.5% to 8.5% in the 2000/01, mainly due to exchange rates.

However, it also noted the burden was mainly a US one and Canada has not been penalised to the same extent.

This appears to be borne out by operator comment: Ski Independence reported bookings 40% up on this time last year and Frontier Ski was up 120% year-on-year for early bookings.

Crystal acting managing director Kevin Ivie also noted early bookings were so strong it would be hard to predict an accurate forecast for the coming season, but also that bookings are still up year-on-year.

Statistics from the Canadian Tourism Commission show the 2000/01 season saw an overall increase of 9%, with 87,100 British skiers and boarders taking to Canadian pistes.

&#42 The Canadian Tourism Commission’s 24-page Ski Canada 2001/02 guide is now available. Call 0870 161 5151 or e-mail: visitcanada@dial.pipex.com for your free copy.