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Jean-Luc Boch is fed up. The president of the National Association of Mountain Resort Mayors (ANMSM) seems tired of constantly having to defend his model, which he increasingly feels ” offensive “. “Skiing is not dead! It is present, and we will continue to develop it.”he hammered, during the conference to launch the winter season, organized by France Montagnes, Thursday, November 10, in Paris.
A few weeks before the start of the chairlifts, the resorts are nevertheless reassured: they have recorded a 7% increase in reservations compared to last year at the same time. Despite inflation, the small minority of French people who practice skiing (8%) is there. And British skiers, scalded at the end of 2021 by the health restrictions implemented in their country, will be back.
However, prices are skyrocketing. In Val Thorens, the cost of the pass will be up 9% compared to last year: an adult will have to pay 72 euros for a day on the slopes of the Three Valleys. At Sunweb, a major agency specializing in the mountains, the cost of packages, which also include accommodation and equipment rental, has increased by 8% in one year. “But the customers are there. We have 11% more bookings compared to last year on the same date”, assures Cécile Revol, of Sunweb. Have skiers taken the lead, fearing possible price increases in the coming weeks? This is one of the assumptions. The most likely explanation is that skiing is practiced above all by people who are not very sensitive to price increases.
If the tariffs increase, it is in particular because the energy bills of the stations fly away. This year, half of them have renewed their contract with their supplier, according to the latest estimates from Domaines skiables de France (DSF), the union of ski resort operators. For them, it is the blow of bamboo. “It’s simple, I multiply my electricity bill by four compared to last year. And again, I signed in May. Those who waited for September, it’s worse”describes Alexandre Maulin, who manages the Sybelles estate (Savoie), and who is also the president of DSF.
The small stations are the most shaken. “However, they are essential, because that’s where children learn, they are our skiers of tomorrow”, worries Jean-Luc Boch. In the Pyrenees, Eric Matzner knows that his electricity bill will increase by “300% at peak times”. “It’s a lot of stress”, confides this academic, who embarked, in 2021, on a somewhat crazy project: that of taking over, with five childhood friends from Montpellier, the management of Puigmal, its 20 kilometers of slopes and its freeride areas. The station has come a long way: crippled with debt, it went bankrupt in 2013 and was abandoned for eight years. Last winter, the reopening with great fanfare was weighed down by the breakdown of the main chairlift – two weeks of closure, and an advertising campaign halted in disaster. “Hell”confides Eric Matzner, who, in his other life, teaches maths at Ensae, the great school of statistics.
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