Dec
18

ESF refuses to budge
Tuesday December 18, 2012 - Email this article to a friend

The French national ski school is to continue with a court case against a British company that offers its guests ski hosting. The result will have implications for all tour operators. The Telegraph has highlighted the case and the newspaper featured information from PlanetSKI.

The Ecole du Ski Francais is operating in conjunction with the French state to take the small UK ski operator, Le Ski, to court in Albertville next month. 

The case is listed for January 7th.

The French claim the company's use of ski hosts is illegal.

Ski hosts take British holidaymakers round the slopes showing them the best runs, the good restaurants and an overview of the resort. It is primarily a social experience.

It seems the French authorities feel it is unsafe.

The hosts stick to the easy slopes, do not go off piste and there is no instruction involved.

Le Ski claims that it actually puts business the way of the ESF as it encourages clients to take lessons if they wish to improve their skiing and snowboarding ability.

Le Ski has been in business for 30 years and has 27 chalets in La Tania, Courchevel and Val d'Isere.

We have reported on the case in the past on PlanetSKI and for our story with background details then see here.

Now the Telegraph has spoken to Le Ski and highlighted the case under the headline, French declare war on British ski hosts.

It used some information and details from our coverage on PlanetSKI.

What the paper does not report is that at the meeting of November 15th between the ESF and all the major British tour operators, the ESF was asked to withdraw from the case.

It was told relations between the British and the French would deteriorate if the case went ahead and there would be a potential loss of British business.

France is the most popular place to ski for the British with over 30% of the UK market heading to France.

More importantly some resorts like Val d'Isere, Meribel,Tignes, La Plagne and Chamonix are heavily dependent on the UK market that accounts for up to 40% of its business in resort.

The ESF considered the request and the ramifications of continuing on its course of action but it says the court case goes ahead.

The ESF said the London meeting was "useful" and it would like to see further dialogue on all matters, but the court case goes ahead.

It goes on to talk of producing safety manuals and the like, however it rejects dropping out of the court case that might end British holidaymakers being able to be shown round the slopes by ski hosts.

"We unfortunately are not in a position to change our decision. We realise the consequences that this will incur but the SNMSF's position in relation to the French law on the subject cannot allow us to simply withdraw from the matter.... we consider that this type of activity in general could create problems and is contrary to the efforts being made in France by the resorts to reduce the number of accidents on the slopes."

Here at PlanetSKI we have asked several times for a statement from the ESF about why it opposes ski hosting but none has been forthcoming.

On one occasion we were promised an "official statement" but it never materialised.

It is understood the ESF believes safety is compromised as the ski hosts are not correctly trained to lead groups and it believes safety on the slopes is paramount. It believes only suitably qualified ski instructors should be allowed to take groups around the slopes.

Here at PlanetSKI we have skied with ski hosts in the past and in the vast majority of cases they have offered a good service and given added-value to British holidaymakers on their annual ski holiday.

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For a related PlanetSKI story as the ESF pulled out of a planned Flashmob in London see this article.

It was feared the PR event would be over-shadowed by the row.

For the spirit of the mountains

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