Crystal Report 1% Ski Industry Growth in 2013
Crystal Ski released their annual report into the UK Ski Industry today and the majority of those working in this niche travel sector will have welcomed its contents.
The report’s headline figure was overall UK ski holiday market growth of 1% compared with the previous season. That translates into total passenger numbers of 899,700. Of those, 515,000 travelled with package tour operators, 269,000 travelled independently and 115,000 joined school or university trips.
Market share amongst destination countries remained almost unchanged with only Switzerland showing a significant increase of 0.6%.
With the exception of Neilson, major UK ski tour operators all managed to increase their passenger numbers. Crystal’s numbers went up by 8,000 to 177,000, the biggest increase. However this is mostly down to TUI (Crystal’s parent company) deciding to withdraw their First Choice brand from the ski market and transferring all 7,000 passengers from the First Choice brand to Crystal.
TUI (Crystal and Thomson) now accounts for 53% of the tour operator market, with Hotelplan (Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit) its closest challenger with 33%. Although Neilson lost a lot of ground it is still comfortably the third biggest ski tour operator with 15% of the UK tour op market.
The report shows that passenger numbers increased in London, South-East England and the North-West. In the Midlands, the South-West, Wales and Northern Ireland, numbers declined slightly.
Although overall passenger numbers increased, the most worrying aspect in the is the continued decline in the school and student ski market. It fell back another 2% last season. In the short term this harms today’s figures but looking further ahead, pupils and students who go on their school or university ski trips are the tour operator and independent travel sectors’ passengers of the future. If less of them get a taste for skiing at school or university, this will inevitably affect overall market growth in the future.
Although the overall message in the report is positive and indicates that the industry is starting to recover from the huge declines of 2008-2011, it’s definitely no time to get carried away.
by David Froom