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UK ski industry reacts to EU exit
Monday June 27, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

As the full implications of Brexit are assessed ski tour operators are freezing prices & offering re-assurance. The long-term situation remains unclear & very uncertain.

The exchange rate plunged after the UK's decision to leave the EU.

It has since stabilised after it hit its lowest level since 1985 and has fallen by around 10% since last Thursday's vote, though this of course may rise in coming days and weeks.

For the ski industry many holiday prices are being held in the short-term.

As a result of Britain voting to leave the European Union in last week's referendum, Inghams has frozen all their summer and winter holiday prices.

It is also committing to absorbing any currency, fuel or other cost increases and ruling out any surcharge once guests have booked.

"The price freeze should alleviate uncertainty for those who have already booked, and gives prospective customers the advantage of booking with a stronger pre-referendum rates of exchange to get the most out of their holiday," said the Chief Operating Officer, Paul Carter.
 
"We advise customers to book their holiday as soon as possible and add on any additional extras such as ski hire, tuition and ski passes to avoid future price rises caused by Brexit," he added.

Many operators have special offers on and some report the holiday deals are being snapped up before they expire.

"Rather oddly we had a very busy sales day on Friday plus Monday and Tuesday as people wanted to book ahead of expected price increases," was how one major operator put it to us.

Business is taking place.

We have canvassed many in the industry and the mood is bleak, though it should be pointed out that the turmoil was expected if there was a vote to leave.

The key question is what will hapen in the future and what are the long-term consequences.

A plunging exchange rate will affect your costs once you arrive in your ski resort. 

From Thursday £100 is now worth around £10 less after the recent fall in the rate of Sterling against the Euro and the US Dollar.

Again fluctuations in currency will change and possibly stabilise by next winter.

Some people though are booking with fears that prices will rise in the future.

"We have seen an increase in sales to Canada as their early booking offers are so good and France as usual is seeing big demand especially for Easter," said the managing director of ski operator Erna Low, Jane Bolton .

"For the time being, Erna Low prices are being kept the same as they were before the nation voted to leave the EU. We feel that we owe it to our clients remain calm and do as much as we can to encourage people to book," Jane added.

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The airline easyJet, that takes many people to the Alps and the Pyrenees, is warning of higher fares in the future and it shares have fallen sharply.

"We're now urging the government to act quickly to renegotiate how an independent UK operates in The European Common Aviation Area. UK airlines seem unanimous in the opinion that a Brexit will lead to reduced competition, reduced routes and higher travel prices," said the UK managing director of Travelzoo, Joel Brandon-Bravo.

We posted reaction from many in the UK snowsports industry on Friday
and have been updating it as reaction comes in.

Some sounded notes of optimism.

"Nothing will fundamentally change for a couple of winters we think. In the short term, however, Le Ski's special offers end on 1st August so our advice is to grab a bargain chalet holiday while you can," said the Managing Director of Le Ski, Nick Morgan.

The Association of British Travel Agents is going out if its way to reassure people.

"Travellers are as free to move between the UK and the EU, European Health Insurance cards remain valid and regulations such as Air Passenger Rights remain in place. People due to travel this summer will see little changes to their holiday. Once the UK formally notifies the EU of its intention to leave, the remaining Member States will have up to two years to offer the UK a deal for a future trading relationship and during this period holidaymakers will not see any immediate changes,' said a statement from ABTA.

In a separate story on PlanetSKI we post some answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.

There are many unanswered questions for the future once Article 50 is triggered and that two year period for exit gets underway.

These include the loss of the EHIC card which gives EU members the right to health treatment in any EU country, an increase in roaming phone charges following a recent EU initiative cap on charges, changes to visa regulations and many other points of detail.

For the snowsports industry the main question is whether the business model of the traditional ski chalet holiday is now under threat according to some.

It relies on the UK companies employing staff abroad on British contracts which are generally cheaper than contracts in France, Italy, Austria, Spain and other EU countries.

If UK contracts are not recognised then costs will go up and the cost of a ski holiday will rise and some chalets could be axed according to some.

This happened in Switzerland in 2014 as the authorities forced UK operators to work under Swiss employment laws - the majority of the UK operators pulled out as we reported here.

"We had already worked on contingency plans just in case this happened and if we are unable to easily employ British nationals in the future then we will move the company's base to France and employ EU nationals to be catered chalets hosts," said the managing director of the ski operator Mountain Heaven, Nick Williams.

"We need to remember there are many good Greeks, Poles, Portuguese, Italians and even French etc who all speak good English and would make excellent chalet hosts," he added.

"The model may have to change and, of course, due to much higher employment costs in France, the costs of a ski holiday would have to go up in the long term. This would be a shame as that would mean the loss of 40 British jobs and of course Corporation tax to the government," said Nick.

The chalet holiday remains extremely popular with the British and some see a glimmer of hope.

"Some key voices from the Leave campaign are softening their comments on immigration, so we may well see that we negotiate for the EEA and this would allow free movement and a chalet program to continue. 2 years is a long time for much to be said, done and negotiated," said Katie Waddington from Zenith Holidays.

Here at PlanetSKI we hope the traditional chalet-style holiday will remain, but there is no question that doubt is being cast.

We will be updating this article as events unfold and reaction comes in.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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