The skiing season has arrived and the cost for UK tourists is racing downhill, thanks to the strong pound.
Prices are down in three-quarters of the 27 resorts surveyed by Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report, with double digit percentage falls in over a third of them.
Bansko (£259) remains the best value resort, with the cost of ski equipment, lift passes, ski school, meals and drinks totalling just £259, making it the number on resort for the fifth year in a row. In Kranjska Gora, though, the cost for the same items has plunged almost 12 per cent to £264 since last season, closing the gap between Bansko and Slovenia’s runner-up to less than £5.
Italy is again best value of the ‘Big Four’ ski countries (Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland), with an 11 per cent price fall recorded in the cheapest Italian resort of Livigno (£286), helped it to overtake Austria’s Ellmau (£306) and move into third place. There have been sizeable price falls of 9 to 13 per cent in barometer costs for fifth-placed Sestriere, Italy (£322), Morzine, France (£333), in sixth, and Ruka, Finland (£334), in seventh. As a result, these have overtaken Soldeu (£344), where UK skiers face paying almost 4 per cent more than a year ago when the Andorran resort registered the biggest price fall.
“Skiers heading to many resorts in Europe will benefit from sterling’s increased strength,” comments Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money. “This means that even where local prices have edged up, UK tourists will find the cost of skiing as well as meals and drinks noticeably cheaper this winter. While skiing remains cheapest in Bulgaria and Slovenia, our research reveals that long-established favourites in France, Austria and Italy are great value too.”
The news is not so positive, though, for the Swiss Alps, with the sterling not able to counter the effect of the rising local prices outside of the eurozone. Research conducted by Crystal Ski Holidays resort specialists found local price rises of 2 to 3 per cent in the three Swiss resorts included in the Post Office Travel Money report and, since sterling is only marginally stronger against the Swiss franc now than a year ago, UK skiers will not see the pound make up the the balance.
Indeed, among 10 World-Class Resorts surveyed, Switzerland’s Zermatt proved to be the most expensive in Europe and over twice as expensive as Sestriere, which rated cheapest for the third consecutive year.
Canada and the USA are poles apart for ski costs. Sterling is the key factor in the results of the Transatlantic Ski Resort Report because the Canadian dollar has continued to fall against the pound, while the US dollar is stronger. This means the three Canadian resorts surveyed – Tremblant, Banff and Whistler – will cost UK skiers less than last year and are much cheaper than the US trio of Winter Park, Vail and Breckenridge, where prices have risen by up to 14 per cent. Tremblant (£526) is best value while a 14 per cent fall in Whistler (£610) has made the world-famous resort at least 18 per cent cheaper than Breckenridge (£746) or Vail (£752).