09 Dec

1.7m people planning to hit the slopes this winter

ABTA issues advice to snow sports lovers heading off for the first full ski-season in three years

As the winter sports season starts ABTA – The Travel Association estimates that up to 1.7 million* people from the UK have booked or are planning to book a winter sports break this season. 

For many people it will be the first time in three years that they’ve had the opportunity to hit the slopes after the COVID-19 pandemic severely restricted winter sports seasons.

ABTA has produced a handy check list of Ten Top Tips to help winter sports enthusiasts stay safe on the slopes and make sure that holidays will be memorable for all the right reasons. 

ABTA always recommends taking out appropriate travel insurance when travelling overseas, but this is especially important when taking a winter sports trip when potential expenses, such as air ambulances or being airlifted from the slopes, can quickly run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Getting fit for skiing before travel is even more important after three years of not being able to get an annual winter workout and will ensure maximum enjoyment on the slopes. 

ABTA Members are reporting very strong demand for winter sports breaks particularly at the busiest times of year, Christmas, New Year, February Half Term and Easter, and it is essential that people book as early as possible to avoid disappointment. 

The alpine resorts, particularly in France, remain by far the most popular destinations, but ABTA Members are also reporting strong interest further afield in countries such as Canada and Norway. 

Susan Deer, Director of Industry Relations at ABTA – The Travel Association, said: 

“Winter sports lovers have been deprived of their much-loved snow and slopes for almost three full seasons due to pandemic travel restrictions and many will be so happy to be able to head off once again. 

“The season has already started with many resorts reporting good snow conditions. A little bit of advance preparation, especially taking out appropriate travel insurance and getting yourself fit for the slopes, can really help you avoid some serious pitfalls and unnecessary expense. ABTA has put together easy to follow advice which will help make your return to the slopes memorable for all the right reasons.”

ABTA’s Ten Top Tips to make sure you’re winter sports ready

  1. Buy a good quality travel insurance policy which covers you for winter sports activities.
  2. If you’re feeling really adventurous and want to do unusual sports activities like tobogganing, or heli-skiing, always let your insurance company know.
  3. Get a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which entitles you to state medical care in participating countries, mostly within the EU. Be aware that a GHIC won’t cover you for costs if you have an accident and need to be airlifted off the slopes or flown home. Travel insurance should cover those costs, so check at the time of booking your travel insurance.
  4. Get fit before you travel with some basic exercises to help minimise injury while you are away.
  5. Check out the International Ski Federation’s FIS Rules of Conduct, this ‘highway code’ for the ski slopes helps everyone stay safe. 
  6. Whether you’re a beginner or an old hand, ski or snowboard lessons can help improve your skills and confidence.
  7. It is advisable to wear a helmet and in some countries it is mandatory.  If you don’t own a helmet, you can usually hire one in resort.
  8. The sun is stronger at altitude. Apply high-factor sunscreen frequently and take extra care with babies and children.
  9. Wear sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes.
  10. Be alcohol aware, the effects of drinking alcohol increase with altitude and your judgement, coordination and reaction times can be affected. 

ABTA always advises that wherever you travel and whatever type of holiday you take, you should check and follow the Foreign Office (FCDO) travel advice for your destination.

Further information and more detailed health and safety advice is available at https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/staying-safe-on-holiday/safe-and-healthy-holidays-snow

Notes to editors
*Source is ABTA’s Holiday Habits consumer research, conducted in the last two weeks of August 2022 by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/) with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers. Of the 42% of people who said they have either booked or are considering taking a winter holiday this year, 6% are planning to take a skiing/snowboarding holiday. Therefore, based on the ONS 2020 GB population estimate of 67,000,000, up to an estimated 1,688,400 people have booked or are planning to take a skiing/snowboarding holiday this year.

About ABTA
ABTA is a trade association for UK travel agents, tour operators and the wider travel industry. We’re the largest travel trade body, with over 3,900 travel brands in Membership who have a combined pre-pandemic annual UK turnover of £40 billion. We work closely with our Members to help raise and maintain standards and build a more sustainable travel industry, and provide travellers with advice, guidance and support.

Our Members sign up to a code of conduct and commit to agreed service standards and fair trading. When you need clear travel information, and accurate and impartial advice relating to your trip, we’re here for you. We’ll help you understand your level of financial protection, and what to do next, in the unlikely event that an ABTA Member goes out of business. So whatever happens, when you book with an ABTA Member, reliable advice comes as standard.  This means that booking with our Members brings peace of mind. Together with our Members, we help you travel with confidence. www.abta.com