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HOW SAFE IS YOUR SKI HOLIDAY?
Sunday July 9, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Some ski companies have recently gone out of business & more could follow. Brexit is blamed.

The chalet firm Mountain Heaven says a significant number of ski companies have "very weak finances" and some have recently ceased trading as a result of the weak pound.

It says it's discovered that some are even breaking the law.

If travel firms are not bonded with an organisation such as ABTA - the Association of British Travel Agents - holidaymakers will not get their money back if the company goes bust.

A blog on Mountain Heaven's website warns that the deterioration in the Sterling to Euro exchange rate since the UK voted to leave the European Union has already affected some smaller companies.

The £ to € exchange rate dropped from more than €1.35 to the £ during the 2015/16 ski season to under €1.15 to the £ during the 2016/17 ski season.

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Mountain Heaven ChaletProtect your ski holiday - photo Mountain Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The impact to the ski industry has been significant due to the fact that most UK ski companies take all their bookings in £ Sterling but the majority of their bills e.g. rents, utilities, food etc. are paid in Euros, thus costs have increased by between 15 to 20% purely due to the Euro impact," the blog says.

"The result has been that a significant number of ski companies now have very weak finances and indeed a number have recently ceased trading.

"As an example Evasion Travel, based in Courchevel, ceased trading in March this year; Rude Chalets based in Morzine ceased trading recently and Green Rides with a number of chalets in resorts such as La Rosiere and La Plagne also folded in the last few months."

Chalet Aiguille de la Nova, Plagne 1800Green Rides chalet in Plagne 1800 last winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no money-back guarantee for customers who book with a company that stops operating and is not financially bonded.

You have some protection if you pay with a credit card, but Mountain Heaven says firms with weak balance sheets are often unable to accept credit or debit cards - they are considered too great a risk by the card providers.

In these cases, customers are asked to pay by bank transfer.

OTHER TOP STORIES ON PLANETSKI:

The views from Mountain Heaven come as confidence apparently falls about the UK's Brexit travel negotiations.

A survey by Travelmole found that 3 out of 4 people are not confident that the UK's Brexit negotiations will have a satisfactory outcome for the travel industry:  See here for further details.  

There has also been reaction to this story over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page from those within the UK snowsports industry:

Facebook reactionFacebook reaction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Mountain Heaven has helped out some affected holidaymakers who've been hit by companies folding.

"When we asked the customers if they had checked if their holiday was financially protected the answer was always no," it says on the blog.

"Unfortunately in many cases the people who booked with these companies simply cannot afford to book another holiday and so have to go without a hard earned ski holiday for at least another year".

It claims that a simple analysis of some smaller companies operating in the catered chalet market in a French ski resort makes worrying reading.

Four out of six were not operating legally.

Mountain Heaven analysisMountain Heaven analysis

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mountain Heaven's Top Tips

You need to be very careful when booking a holiday and you need to become a detective to try and spot the warning signs.

  • Check that the company that you are booking with is financially bonded with the likes of ABTA or ABTOT or protect money in another way for example through a trust account e.g. with ABTrust or the TTA
  • Double check that they are telling the truth about association membership by checking on the websites of the organisations where they tell you they are a member
  • Also check that they are legal tour operators. If they are offering you accommodation and a transfer combined then they must provide financial protection under EU regulations. Unfortunately in our analysis of companies operating in the resorts where we operate we have found that many are flouting this important regulation
  • If the company you are booking with only accepts bank transfers question why. In many circumstances it will be because they are unable to get credit/debit card facilities due to poor finances and so this puts your money at risk
  • If they suddenly request upfront payments for extras ranging from equipment, lift passes to transfers etc. and request payment only by bank transfer then this can also be a sign that they are in financial trouble
  • Check their finances quickly, easily and free of charge via the Companies House website simply go to the filing history section and view their last accounts. If they have a very poor and/or negative balance sheet (and/or are also getting poorer each year) then this is a sign of weakness, but remember that in many cases the filling can be many months after the end of the financial year and so if they had a poor situation at the end of the 2015/16 season it may be much worse after the 2016/17 season and so be very careful with any bookings. When looking at the companies that have recently ceased trading the main factor was a year on year worsening of their financial situation.
Danger Thin IceWatch out for the dangers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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