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Ready to hit the slopes?

It’s been a chaotic couple of years for the ski industry ‒ and fans of the slopes have certainly missed their usual trips, as resorts the world over faced closure because of Covid 19.

Since 9 March 2020, when ski operators first rushed to get their visitors home, uncertainty has been the order of the day as global travel restrictions were placed, then lifted, then placed again. 

The Italian resorts were the first to close, with Austria and most major North American and Canadian destinations following suit just a few days later.

Before the pandemic, the ski industry had been doing very well. In the US, for example, the Ski and Snowboard Resorts Industry had happily reported on five years of steady growth as both domestic and foreign consumers travelled to ski destinations such as British Columbia, Colorado and California. More than 51 million visitors travelled to American slopes in 20191,  making it the fourth-best season since records began in the 1970s.

The good news, though, is that international travel is at last opening up ‒ and the ski industry seems pretty confident that many will return to the much-missed slopes. A recent survey of ski resorts and tour operators found that 97% of businesses expected to operate fully for winter 21/22, and 84% expected to see British skiers back2.  

So what can we expect from the 21/22 ski season, as we happily get out our goggles and pick up our poles? 

Ongoing restrictions

The pandemic still has a huge impact. You will need to be double vaccinated and carry proof of this ‒ and a negative test will be essential to make journeys to other parts of the world. These documents will also be needed to use the facilities such as bars and restaurants in the resorts themselves. In France, for example, the Pass Sanitaire insists on proof of status for people ages 12 and over3. This may cause complications for UK families, as young people in Britain have only just started to have the first vaccine.

There is still overall uncertainly about travel in general as well, as whole regions constantly re-assess their rules. Social distancing, face coverings and amended lift use will inevitably slow things down, and pre-bookings for leisure facilities will need to be planned.

Increased admin

You will need to make sure all your travel arrangements and insurance documents are correct. Previously used European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will no longer be valid in European resorts for British travellers. A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)4 will be needed, although it will not replace travel insurance, which is still required.

Getting the right protection 

With regards to your travel insurance, we highly recommend you seek out professional advice. The travel insurance market is complex and the cover on offer from individual providers for risks such as Covid 19, can vary greatly. Our Head of Client Experience, Hannah Bell explains: 

“Many customers would previously purchase an annual travel insurance policy, letting it sit nicely in the background, catching occurances that sadly prevented, or affected their travel throughout the year. With the changes and uncertainty that Covid 19  brought to our lives, the travel insurance market adapted to this, however there may still be financial exposures that travel insurance is unable to cater for. Our advice to clients is that they speak with their dedicated adviser so that we can understand their exact requirements, based on their planned travel, to not only put the correct cover in place but so they can understand exactly what they are covered for.”

 When thinking about travel protection, it is also important you consider the items you are taking with you. The cost of ski gear and associated clothing and footwear can add up. At Marsh Private Clients, our household insurance can offer extensive cover for your items as you travel, giving you peace of mind. Speak to your dedicated adviser to find out more. 

Busy resorts

Ski companies are reporting that bookings are strong for 2021/225.  Many of these bookings may be postponed holidays that have rolled over from 2021 and 2020, but it does mean the resorts may be full ‒ so booking as soon as possible is essential. 

Two great options for the start of the season are Tignes, France and Verbier, Switzerland. Both resorts open early, offering good options for early skiing, when many other resorts are still closed.

Arinsal in Andorra is a fantastic destination for taking the family on a February half-term break, thanks to its well-groomed slopes (plenty of them at beginner level), ski schools, snow gardens and nurseries.

Breckenridge and Vail are two of the most popular resorts in the US meanwhile ‒ for good reason. Breckenridge has something for most budgets, with a bustling town and authentic laid-back vibe, while Vail is the option you may prefer if you are looking for that picture-perfect, Insta-worthy bit of luxury.

Some more famous options could be fully booked and busy as people rush back to the slopes. So why not cast your eye a little further down the road for a slightly more exclusive 2022 season? Neighbouring resorts can often offer just as much without the crowds. La Tzoumaz, for example, is a quieter neighbour to Verbier that offers breath-taking views over the Rhone valley and over 55km of pistes. Its season runs from December through to late April. Similarly, if St Anton is too full, a 10-minute drive will take you to Zurs, a quaint village just 300m above Lech. It offers luxury ski chalets and a range of bars while busier hubs are all close by.

It feels good to start planning ahead ‒ and if the ski operators and resorts are to be believed, this season could be one of the best ever, even with some restrictions still in place.

This is great news for travellers ‒ but also the entire global ski industry. Covid-19 didn’t just impact the resorts themselves. Travel operators, ski season staff, hotels, bars, equipment manufacturers, retailers and suppliers have all struggled. 

It’s fantastic to start planning now for the next season. Let’s get organised and get going!

 

Sources:

1 https://www.statista.com/topics/1770/winter-sports/

2 https://www.inthesnow.com/survey-finds-84-of-ski-businesses-expects-brits-back-on-the-slopes-next-winter/

3 https://uk.ambafrance.org/Health-pass-and-vaccination-in-the-UK

4 https://www.gov.uk/global-health-insurance-card

5 https://www.inthesnow.com/ski-holiday-companies-report-reservations-for-21-22-well-above-normal/

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