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British ski hosting tour operator to appeal
Friday September 5, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

Le Ski has lost an initial appeal against the ban on ski hosting in France. The company is backed by a range of other operators and has confirmed it will appeal to the Supreme Court in Paris.

The company issued a brief statement on Friday afternoon.

"Le Ski has today instructed its lawyer to submit an appeal to the supreme court in Paris regarding the ski hosting case. This is only possible with the continuing support of our fellow tour operators", Le Ski managing director Nick Morgan said.

Yesterday the Court of Appeals in Chambery rejected a first appeal on an earlier decision by a French court in Albertville.

It had ruled that the practice of tour operator staff taking guests on familiarisation tours of the slopes was illegal.

The court said it broke Article L.212-1  of the French Code du Sport that only allows for qualified instructors to take people around the slopes.

The appeal was based around the fact that some other groups in France, including teachers and members of the Armed Forces, are exempted from the regulation.

It claimed the earlier ruling was discriminatory and should be over-turned.  The lawyer for Le Ski, Monsieur Carnelutti, presented detailed written evidence to support the case.

That appeal was rejected and the Managing Director of Le Ski, Nick Morgan, gave his reaction after the hearing.

"I am very, very disappointed by the decision of the court and quite frankly more than a bit baffled," Nick Morgan said to PlanetSKI.

See here for our story from yesterday as we broke news of the court case.  It has detailed information and reaction from all sides.

Le Ski is backed by a number of other British tour operators; Alpine Elements, Crystal Ski Holidays, Esprit Ski, Inghams, Mark Warner, Neilson, Ski Olympic, Ski Total, Skiworld and Thomson Ski.

We have spoken to some of them and all are set on continuing the fight, despite the mounting legal costs.

"We are very disappointed at the judgement of the court in Chambery and how it has turned out today. However we will continue to support the case and look foward to the arguments being presented in Paris," said Ian Hope from Ski Total yesterday as the news broke.

Le Ski said throwing in the towel at this stage is "unthinkable".

"We will do our utmost to ensure that ski hosting is once again legally possible in the French Alps. 

We are extremely grateful for the very significant support of fellow our tour operators on this matter," said a statement from Le Ski on its web site.

The tour operator had 5 days to decide on whether to appeal and took the decision today.

Some are already talking about taking it further to the European Court in Luxembourg if the next appeal is unsuccessful.

Supporting Appeals Court decisionSupporting Appeals Court decision







The initial legal case was backed by the ESF who said the result of the appeal in Chambery was entirely as it expected.

There has been swift reaction to the failed appeal.

Here is a selection of comments from the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

"Disappointing but no surprise there. French were always going to rule in their own favour IMO."

"I think many Brits will be actively avoiding ESF"

"I think this was always going to be the outcome of the case in the French courts. My view is that ski hosting is a valuable and desirable service to the guests of these tour operators. If a qualification could be structured around ski hosting and backed by the UK governing bodies then I believe the tour operators would have substantially more clout when it comes to defending their right to offer this service to their own guests."

"I can see the benefits to getting hosts to take some sort of qualification. I've been skiing with some that while lovely probably weren't best equipped to guide people around a mountain. Raises the cost tho on already expensive holidays."

"Perhaps protectionism will always be justified by other means when a nation is suffering over 10% unemployment - heading for double UK figure."

 "Thing is it will probably actually stop Brits who specifically choose a tour operator that offers guiding from going to France to ski. If the ESF really believe these there people would have otherwise been booking into lessons then they are delusional."

"UK skiers want the same high standards and varied choice of services they're used to across other industry sectors. Hosting provides skiers with a professional entry-level on-snow service that might lead them to demand tuition services. Banning hosting will narrow the uptake for tuition. It's a very, very short-sighted and naive business perspective. No wonder unemployment in France is so high."

"Are the ESF that delusional that they believe all these Brits who took advantage of the guiding will suddenly be signing up for lessons or even less likely hire an instructor privately to guide them? I think for most people it wasn't even about not being able to read a map themselves or wanting to know the best runs but more about social skiing with people of a similar ability."

"They are sadly deluded yes to think that they will pick up business with this in force. Such a shame as I've used ski guiding b4 as a single male traveller and it was great to have it as I met others to ski with for the rest of the week. Tour Operators should give their Reps time off so they can ski socially with customers out of uniform. It would still help business.

"The very worst ski lessons my family ever took were in France; while some were judged acceptable, the majority were appalling. I once witnessed a French instructor start with 15 children; I followed the group down and by the time we'd reached the bottom only 5 were still with him - the rest scattered, lost on the hill. Needless to say, with one exception, the very best lessons we found were in Austria and Switzerland."


"I think there probably is an element of protectionism here but I also think a lot of locals, who have grown up in the mountains, probably look askance at Brits (with only a few seasons under their belts) leading others around the mountains. Mountains, as we all know, can be vey dangerous environments and any sort of training or qualifications can be very useful (its not just about knowing the best bars!). We all know about Simon Butler and the "equivalence" - but ESF (and the whole ski world) recognize BASI 4 (with eurotest) as a top level qualification. Similarly lots of British climbers have done the full UIAGM guiding syllabus to lead climbs in the Alps. Ski hosts would not require this level of expertise but there is BASI 1 -3 and various mountain Leader courses that can be taken. If an agreement can be reached with the French authorities on what is appropriate for ski hosting then an accommodation might be reached. The Brits spend huge amounts in the French alps and hosting is a valuable add-on for most inexperienced skiers. It is in the interests of both side to find a resolution.

"Well said. The majority of ski hosts who I have experience with have never done a season and offer can't ski as well as their guests. Would be great if the tour ops could offer it in a more structured way perhaps as part of a training/ scholarship program in conjunction with BASI. Can't see them getting anywhere by fighting against the locals/ Esf. No matter what court they take it to."

"Absolutely. As I understand it, the BASI 4 "equivalence" came about after initial arguments and then agreement of what was required. British skiers and climbers who have the appropriate qualifications are well respected in the Alps."

If you want to add you voice then see here for the PlanetSKI Facebook page with various different posts on the subject.

Will it be seen again?Will it be seen again?












The case has attracted much media attention see below for an earlier video report on SKY NEWS about the issue


So will the continuing ban on ski hosting make any difference?

Tens of thousands of British holiday skiers used to enjoy it but last year there was no marked exodus of skiers to Austria, Italy and Switzerland where, by and large, it is allowed.

Some UK operators, including Crystal and Skiworld, used qualified French instructors in some of their resorts last winter and they say it was a success and was welcomed by their customers.

See here for our stories from last year as Crystal made its announcement and then later when Skiworld followed suit.

Here at PlanetSKI we believe there is much legitimate comment on the case but little real examination of the exact legalities and the operation of French Law.  Much opinion seems to be presented as fact, even by the specialist ski media.

We will be speaking in-depth to all sides involved to assess the exact legal situation and what the Supreme Court in Paris may decide; look out for that story over the weekend.

It comes as the Ski Club of Great Britain is set to appear in a French court over its leader programme; its case was deferred earlier this week but will be held shortly.

The two are separate cases and the Ski Club is using an entirely different defence based on whether their Leaders are remunerated or not.

For the moment ski hosting by UK tour oprators in France, using their own staff, is illegal.

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