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British in French court over ski hosting
Wednesday January 9, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

The British company Le Ski has appeared in court in France as the authorities try to end ski hosting. Signs are not good and it will have implications for all the other British Tour operators that offer hosting to guests. Judgement will be given next month.

Le Ski has been operating for 30 years in the French Alps.

In recent years it, along with many other companies, has been offering its guests familiarisation tours of the slopes. The holidaymakers are not taken off piste or on difficult runs, but rather shown the local slopes and the best mountain restaurants.

The French state, in close collaboration with the Ecole de Ski Francais, is now trying to put a stop to it on safety grounds saying the hosts are not properly qualified under French law to take organised groups on the slopes.

They claim safety is compromised.

On Monday this week, during a 4-hour hearing, a judge at court in Albertville listened to both sides of the argument.

Le Ski put up a robust defence but is not optimistic of winning in the local court. 

A judgement will be handed down on February 18th and if it goes against Le Ski we understand the company will consider appealing to a higher court.

All the British operators that offer hosting are watching the case closely.  Most are pessimistic the result will go the way of the UK operators and British holidaymakers.

We have reported on the case in the past on PlanetSKI and for the full background to the case and the implications it may have then see one of our earlier stories.

The British are a sizeable market for the French resorts, up to 40% in areas like Meribel and Val d'Isere, and the battle has undoubtedly soured relations.

Here at PlanetSKI we have spoken to several senior people in French tourist offices who are highly critical of the ESF and French authorities as they fear it will harm the experience of the British hoiidaymaker who likes ski hosting.

We have tried on several occasions to get a statement from the ESF as to why it has brought the case but each time our requests have been turned down.

We understand the French feel the ski hosts are not experienced enough to guide people with just a short course undertaken.

Others feel the ski schools see business being taken away from them.

Here at PlanetSKI we have skied with British ski hosts on a number of occasions and think the service offered is a good one though in some cases more training should be undertaken by the hosts.

However the court in Albertville will not rule on opinion, but rather on law and fact. There are strict local and national rules in France about who is able to lead groups on the slopes in return for money.

The prospects are not looking good for Le Ski and the other operators.

Here at PlanetSKI we will bring you the result and full reaction next month.

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 last Autumn would be over-shadowed by the row.

For the spirit of the mountains

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