EconomyThe return of the British is a “great relief”...

The return of the British is a “great relief” for French ski resorts

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The news is a great relief for French ski resorts. British holidaymakers will be back in the French mountains. From this Friday, “vaccinated people coming from the United Kingdom will no longer have to produce a compelling reason” to come to France, announced the French Minister Delegate in charge of Tourism and SMEs, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, on TV5 Monde.

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The border health control measures decided in December for vaccinated travelers from the United Kingdom, due to an epidemic outbreak in the country, have been reduced: the “compelling reason” prohibiting leisure travel disappears, as the period of 48 hour isolation. Only a negative test (PCR or antigenic test) of less than 24 hours is required to come to France.

A wave of reservations expected for February and March

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“The news spread through the station like wildfire. For us, it’s a great relief, it’s a lot of joy, ”explains to AFP François Badjily, director of the Tourist Office of Alpe d’Huez (Isère). In the resort, “one in two customers is foreign and half of the foreigners are British, which is a quarter of our customers. But that represents much more in terms of turnover: their average basket is higher than that of our fellow citizens,” he specifies.

After an excellent Christmas vacation, the following ten days the arrival of “Belgians, Dutch, Danes who were still on vacation, had somewhat cushioned the shock” of the absence of the British, according to François Badjily. “We are expecting a wave of large reservations for February and March,” reacts Gilles Delaruelle, general manager of Courchevel Tourisme.

Nearly a billion euros in benefits

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According to Didier Arino, director of the French specialist firm Protourisme, the economic benefits of the British for the French mountains in winter amount to “nearly one billion euros”, while the English clientele represents the first contingent of foreign skiers in France.

While the British make up 15% of the clientele of ski resorts, as Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne reminded us, it is sometimes much more at the local level: it is 42% of that of Val d’Isère, and in the two Savoie, the British represent four out of ten foreign customers and around 36% of overnight stays, according to Protourisme.

Good news also for the British

At present, French ski resorts are showing an overall drop in reservations of 8% compared to 2019, specifies Protourisme. But the situation is contrasting, between a decline of 14% in the Alps and a jump of 12% in the Pyrenees.

On the British side, professionals are also delighted: “It’s a big relief for customers who had booked their holidays,” a spokesperson for the British association of tour operators ABTA told AFP. For his part, Chris Logan, general manager of the specialized travel agency Crystal Ski, observed “a number of reservations in France which had doubled as of Wednesday”. The Eurostar company said it was “ready to welcome more passengers” on its trains.

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The Compagnie des Alpes, which manages Tignes, Val d’Isère and Les Arcs in particular, will be able to “finally launch” its “Travelski Express” rail line between London and its stations. “The first train is already scheduled to depart from London St-Pancras on January 28,” she announces.



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