French winter resorts welcome early snow

Hotel News - 01/12/2008

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The exceptional skiing conditions, including the heaviest and earliest snow in Europe in a decade, saw 60cm fall in the Alps and even more fall in the Pyrenees. The snow has made it possible for ski resorts to open early, and offers an important boost to the multi-billion pound ski industry.

“This is nature's way of cocking a snook at the experts,” said Christian Rochette, who is the head of Ski France International, the French winter resorts tourism association. The skiing industry expected this to be a good season in spite of the gloomy economic conditions, according to forecasters such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“We've got excellent conditions for this time of year and very cold temperatures, which means we can use the snow cannons to make artificial snow as well,” he noted.

Compared with last year, reservations at resorts in France were up by 20 per cent, and Rochette commented that it didn’t appear that British skiers were planning to stay away because of a weak pound or poor economy. “They don't seem to be prepared to sacrifice their winter holidays,” he added. “They want to get away from all this talk of a crisis.”

His optimism was backed by French resort officials, although a number of them expect that British tourists will spend less this year. “Even if they still come, we expect that they'll spend a little less,” said one official.

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