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STRONG STERLING MEANS RESORT PRICES HEAD DOWNHILL FOR UK SKIERS

Press Release   •   Dec 05, 2015 00:01 GMT

Prices are down in three-quarters of resorts surveyed for Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report with double digit percentage falls in over a third

Prices remain cheapest in Bansko with Kranjska Gora running a close second

Italy is cheapest of the ‘Big Four’ ski countries with third-placed Livigno challenging Eastern Europe on value

Sestriere is lowest-priced of 10 world-class resorts

Gap widens between eurozone and more expensive Swiss resorts

Following last season’s cost cutting in ski resorts, prices for UK skiers are continuing to slide downhill as the 2015/16 season gets underway this weekend, according to the ninth annual Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report (www.postoffice.co.uk/skireport2015). Thanks primarily to the powerful pound, the report found that prices are down in three-quarters of the 27 resorts surveyed¹, with double digit percentage falls in over a third of them².

In second-placed Kranjska Gora, for example, the cost of ski equipment, lift passes, ski school, meals and drinks, researched by Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report partner Crystal Ski Holidays, is down almost 12 per cent to £264 since last season. This helped the Slovenian resort to close the gap with five-time best-value resort Bansko (£259) to less than £5.

The report, which features resorts that are among the most popular with UK skiers, also reveals heavy price falls in many of the French, Austrian and Italian resorts surveyed. Italy is again best value of the ‘Big Four’ ski countries (Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland). An 11 per cent price fall in the cheapest Italian resort, Livigno (£286), helped it to overtake Austria’s Ellmau (£306) and move into third place in the barometer, within £27 of Bansko.

There have been sizeable price falls of 9-13 per cent in barometer costs for fifth-placed Sestriere, Italy (£322), Morzine, France (£333) in sixth position and Ruka, Finland (£334) in seventh. As a result these have overtaken Soldeu (£344), where UK skiers face paying almost four per cent more than a year ago when the Andorran resort registered the biggest price fall.

Serre Chevalier (£367) was one of only three European resorts surveyed to register local price falls. Once sterling’s higher value was factored in to give UK skiers a 13.5 per cent year-on-year reduction in costs, this made the French resort the only new entrant to the best value top 10, replacing Selva Val Gardena in 10th place. The other resorts boosted by local price cuts were ninth-placed Les Deux Alpes, France (£364) and Kitzbuhel, Austria (£458), where a fall of four per cent contributed to an overall 15.2 per cent year-on-year reduction.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: “Skiers heading to many resorts in Europe will benefit from sterling’s increased strength. This means that even where local prices have edged up, UK tourists will find the cost of skiing as well as meals and drinks noticeably cheaper this winter. While skiing remains cheapest in Bulgaria and Slovenia, our research reveals that long-established favourites in France, Austria and Italy are great value too. Livigno is a great bet for both solo skiers and families as are Morzine and Ellmau.

“However, bargain-hunters should exercise caution when considering Swiss resorts as sterling has not strengthened enough to counteract the effect of rising local prices.”

Research conducted by Crystal Ski Holidays resort specialists found local price rises of two-three per cent in the three Swiss resorts included in the Post Office Travel Money report and, since sterling is only marginally stronger against the Swiss franc now than a year ago, UK skiers will not see sterling redress the balance. This means the gap between Saas Fee (£573), Wengen (£597) and Zermatt (£699) and their eurozone competitors has widened.

Among 10 World-Class Resorts surveyed, Zermatt proved to be the most expensive in Europe and over twice as expensive as Sestriere, which rated cheapest for the third consecutive year.

In the Best for Families category, Bansko (£876) remains cheapest for a family of four. However the Bulgarian resort is three per cent more expensive than a year ago and is the only one of 10 surveyed where parents will find higher prices this season. The biggest fall is in runner-up Kranjska Gora, where lower local costs – especially for ski school (£240 for four) – added to the strong pound has led to a 16 per cent drop in costs.

Andrew Brown said: “Many parents taking their children skiing for the first time will want them to attend ski school and the cost of this can add considerably to a ski holiday. Kranjska Gora has again emerged as great value for those on a strict budget, offering the lowest price for ski tuition.”

Canada and the USA are poles apart for ski costs. Sterling is the key factor in the results of the Transatlantic Ski Resort Report because the Canadian dollar has continued to fall against the pound, while the US dollar is stronger. This means the three Canadian resorts surveyed – Tremblant, Banff and Whistler – will cost UK skiers less than last year and are much cheaper than the US trio of Winter Park, Vail and Breckenridge, where prices have risen by up to 14 per cent. Tremblant (£526) is best value while a 14 per cent fall in Whistler (£610) has made the world-famous resort at least 18 per cent cheaper than Breckenridge (£746) or Vail (£752).

After reporting growth in the 2014/15 ski season, Tamsin Todd, Crystal Ski Holidays managing director said: "At Crystal we're passionate about making ski holidays easy to book and enjoyable for everyone who wants to get to the mountains, whatever their budget or level of experience. With the favourable exchange rates, an even wider choice of resorts and direct regional flights, and our expert in-resort service, we are optimistic that this year we’ll see further growth as more customers return to the slopes.”

A full breakdown of barometer costs for the 27 resorts surveyed can be found by visiting postoffice.co.uk/skireport2015.

Skiers can purchase euro over the counter at more than 10,000 Post Office branches. Currencies for other Ski Resort Report destinations, including the Swiss franc, Canadian dollar and Bulgarian lev, are available on demand at over 1,600 branches while an additional 2,400 stock US dollars. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery, where a range of travel insurance policies suitable for ski trips are also available.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

¹ The Post Office Ski Resort Report was compiled using prices for 27 resorts in Europe and North America, provided by Crystal Ski Holidays (www.crystalski.co.uk), the UK’s leading ski holiday specialist. Costs are based on mid-season pricing and entry level skis and boots. Ski school daily hours vary depending on the resort. Lunch prices are based on two courses (main course and dessert) excluding drinks. A full breakdown of prices and an analysis of this is published in the separate Post Office Travel Money Ski Resort Report brochure. All prices are based on the Post Office exchange rates in mid-November 2014.

² Ski resorts to register double-digit percentage price falls were:

Kitzbuhel -15.2%

Whistler -13.9%

Les Deux Alpes -13.5%

Serre Chevalier -13.0%

Kranjska Gora -11.9%

Banff -11.7%

Ruka -11.6%

Livigno -11.0%

Courchevel -10.5%

La Thuile -10.3%

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