Skiers and snowboarders planning their winter holiday for next season are being urged to check they are financially protected after a spate of independent tour operators collapsed in the wake of the Brexit result.
In a recent blog, ski operator Mountain Heaven says Britain’s decision to leave the EU has had a significant impact on the industry, most notably the plummeting exchange rate. The rate of the Euro against the pound has fallen from €1.35 for £1 during the 2015/16 winter season to under €1.15 for £1 in 2016/17.
Most UK ski companies take bookings in sterling, but pay for bills, including rent on properties, utilities and food in local currency. The weakening pound has seen these costs increase by 15 to 20 percent for operators, hitting smaller independent companies the hardest. Many have been forced to cut costs to save money, while some have ceased trading altogether.
In the past six months failed operators include Evasion Travel in Courchevel, Rude Chalets in Morzine, and Green Rides based in La Rosière and Val d’Isère. None of these operators were covered by one of the trade body organisations such as ABTOT and ABTA, which protect consumers in case a company fails. Without this protection customers are at risk of losing all their money.
However money back protection is still provided if booking a holiday with a credit card. Some smaller operators without bonded protection, such as Morzine chalet company Alikats, insist on payments through VISA or Mastercard to protect their customers in “the unlikely scenario we go bust,” said co-owner Al Judge.
No such protection is given with payments made by bank transfers. Mountain Heaven suggest it’s often businesses who are struggling who will request this form of payment to improve their cash flow.
Skiers and snowboarders are now being urged to check the status of their current and future bookings to make sure they’re protected. Mountain Heaven suggests that many customers who have been caught in recent problems did not check if their holiday was financially protected before booking.
Abtot membership secretary Samantha Bradbury said: “It is absolutely vital for people to check that the travel organiser they book with has arranged financial protection for their holidays.”
An Abta representaive said: “In the unlikely event your travel company goes out of business, we have a quick, clear and simple process for you to follow, so you’ll be able to continue your holiday as planned or get your money back.”
Here are our top tips to protect your winter ski or snowboard holiday.