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European Alps are home to a third of the world’s ski reorts — but they’re mostly closed

This winter was supposed to be the 12th edition of a ski and snowboard trip that I do every year with a group of friends from both Canada and the US. Last winter we were in Fernie, British Columbia and this winter we were planning to go to Europe. But for obvious reasons, the trip has been cancelled. It’s going to be a tough season for the ski industry.

According to this recent FT article, the European Alps are home to more than a third of the world’s 2,084 ski resorts. Typically, these resorts bring in about €28 billion in revenues over the course of a season, which is similarly about a third of the global total and almost 7% of the value of the European Union’s overall tourism market.

But many/most resorts are closed right now. France has shuttered all ski resorts until at least January 7, 2021. And Switzerland, while “cautiously open,” is apparently getting pressure from its neighbors to close down again as further quarantine restrictions are put in place.

Interestingly enough, some resorts are already reporting higher than normal early bookings for the 2021-2022 season. This is according to the same FT article. Instead of several hundred early bookings, which would be typical, they’re reporting several thousand. And many of the bookings have moved upmarket compared to prior years.

What this starts to indicate is that we are likely to see an explosion in travel and leisure spending as soon as people feel safe and as soon as these restrictions are lifted. Demand is getting pent-up right now and that can mean only one thing: the 12th annual ski and snowboard trip needs to be a banger.

Charts: Financial Times


  1. Odd graph; graph title “Number of Ski Resorts, column heading “Number of Ski Areas” and The column heading for Italy has 349 “Ski Areas” yet graphically shows just less than 300 which appears to be the total number of Ski Resorts in Italy.


  2. Jim

    I wonder if this trend is more indicative of skiing being seen as a safe activity rather than pent-up demand? Presumably, the apres-ski activities are curtailed in those regions where skiing itself is allowed.


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