Anyone who has already booked a ski trip during the spring break may have been anxiously awaiting the weather forecasts in the popular ski areas lately. There is good news for the Alps, but the future of ski destinations remains uncertain.
Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 3:55 PM
“It didn’t look good for a while, but from this weekend temperatures will drop and snow will fall in the Alps,” says Piet Demeyere of the travel operator TUI. So at the last minute there will be skiing in the Alpine countries. But if you have booked a skiing holiday in the Pyrenees, it might be worth it. A look at the webcams of destinations like Ax 3 Domaines, La Molina and Grand Tourmalet reveals plenty of brown earth around the narrow white slopes.
What is going on?
As is often the case, rising temperatures are the main culprit. February has been very mild and rainy so far. Some ski slopes therefore let the snow cannons take over the work of nature. But when it gets hot or rainy during the day, the slopes quickly turn into a wet mess that is difficult to ski on. That’s why it’s better to look for your happiness higher up. Above 1,600 meters in France and Switzerland and above 1,000 meters in Austria the snow will be a lot harder and better.
2. Is all that still affordable?
More and more resorts in the French Alps are aiming for a wealthier clientele by building more luxurious restaurants and hotels. This is necessary, now that areas where snow is a certainty are becoming increasingly scarce and therefore more expensive. This is evident from a study by the French newspaper Le Monde. Cheap holiday colonies must make way for star hotels. Owners of hotels in the mid-range segment also find it difficult to resist the high offers from project developers.
On top of that there is inflation. The price of a ski holiday has therefore risen by 12 percent over the past two years. A tip for those who cannot resist the snow: take out cancellation insurance. Ski resorts are just like any other holiday destination – snow or no snow, you have to pay. If you want to cancel because there is not enough snow, those costs will be charged to you.
What does the future bring?
Climate change will only thwart more ski holidays in the coming years. Even the French Court of Audit sees no improvement and warns that French ski destinations seriously underestimate the risks. Snow cannons are supposed to help, but they only work when it is cold enough. Moreover, they produce a lot of CO₂ and have a major impact on the local water level.
TUI already sees that travelers are adapting. Higher altitude ski areas are preferred, because the chance of quality snow is better there. “Ski holidays have not been written off for the time being,” says spokesperson Demeyere, “but we do notice that they are no longer the most important trip of the year for people. Shorter ski holidays of just four days are becoming increasingly popular.”