French ski resorts sold about 52 million ski days during the 2015-16 season, according to Domaines Skiables de France (DSF), which represents 230 French ski resorts, blaming the weather for discouraging visitors."The start of the season was very complicated because there was very little snow at low and medium altitudes, then the weather was changeable (...) The larger stations did OK, but the smaller and middle-sized resorts didn’t come out of it so well. The problem was basically the weather, and that’s out of our hands. What we need this year is more snow earlier", Marie Tissier, spokeswoman for DSF said.
"Despite this the numbers dropped only 3% compared with the previous season and only dropped 6% on the average for the last four years. This resilience is thanks to our savoir-faire and investment by the ski resorts, particularly in artificial snow that have made seasonal work in the stations more secure" DSF reported.
Mountain resorts in the Jura were the worst affected, with visitors down 23% in a year, followed by the Vosges (-16%), the Massif Central (-15%). The Savoie (+1%) and the Haute-Savoie (+0.1%) remained stable, but the Pyrenees reported winter sport tourist numbers down by 7%.
Lack of snow in Alps and Pyrenees sees US resorts overtake France as world’s top skiing destination for first time since 2012.
Laurent Reynaud, head of the DSF, said: "We remain in first place in Europe". France was closely tailed by Austria with 49.9 million ski days. 2015-2016 winter season is the second season in a row that France’s ski resorts have recorded a drop in attendance.French ski resorts reported a peak number of visitors in the 2008-09 season with 58.9m ski days.
France has more than 357 resorts – just under 9% of the world’s share – and winter sports account for around 18% of France’s tourist economy, according to the Franco-British chamber of commerce. More than 100,000 jobs are created in resorts during the winter season, including 18,000 in the ski business and 15,000 seasonal posts.
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) announced that U.S. ski areas tallied an estimated 53.9 million skier and snowboarder visits during the 2015-16 season. The annual skier visit tally, an important industry metric, was released on May at the NSAA Convention and Tradeshow in Nashville, Tenn.