The ski market has been shaken by Covid-19, but the future is bright with the number of skiers on the rise and the French ski resorts investing in infrastructures. Most ski resorts also make big efforts to develop the summer activities, some even looking to become an all-year-round destination at some point in the midterm future.
1. Making the most of Alpine life
Although the pandemic is restricting travel, slowing visitor stays and transactions, it is also causing lifestyle changes that could benefit ski resorts once it has passed.
One trend is an appreciation for nature. Ski resorts offer this in abundance, with open spaces and clean air. The appeal of mountain living or holidaying, in summer and winter, is likely to continue after the pandemic and attract a new customer base.
The appeal of Alpine living or holidaying is likely to continue.
The pandemic has also accelerated working from home and this is expected to continue even when there is a vaccine. Working from home, provided there is good broadband, can be done anywhere, including a ski resort. People may choose to take fewer but longer visits to make the most of this, which would be a reversal of the trend for weekend trips.
Despite the largest global economic downturn forecast since World War II, property prices in the most expensive prime resorts have increased, demonstrating the continued demand.
2. Positive signs in national Alpine markets
While the property markets in ski resorts have their own drivers, it’s important to consider the economy and property prices at a national level.
Analysis of the economic situation in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland shows Austria is forecast to see the least severe economic downturn following Covid-19. According to Oxford Economics, Austrian GDP is expected to fall -4.1% in 2020 compared to -8.6% in France. However, over the next five years, France is forecast to see the strongest growth (27.1%), followed by Austria (24.6%). Figures for Switzerland are -6.4% and 18.3% respectively, while for Italy they are -8.4% and 19.3% respectively.
Housing markets during the pandemic have been remarkably robust and many countries have seen prices rise as government incentives and low-interest rates continue to make the residential property market look attractive. There are some short-term threats, given concerns that the full economic impact of the pandemic has yet to be felt. However, the long-term fundamentals look stable.
3. Skier numbers on the rise
The number of ski visitors around the world increased during the 2018/19 season for the third successive year. Globally, numbers exceeded 350 million for the first time in more than a decade. The most significant increase was in China (14.1%) but there were also rises in Russia (10.0%), the Czech Republic (6.6%) and Sweden (5.0%). The Alps, the largest ski area by far, saw an average increase of 0.6%.
The number of ski visitors around the world increased during the 2018/19 season for the third successive year
The 2019/20 season halted in mid-March, while 2020/21 visitor numbers will depend on resort closures and travel restrictions. However, historic figures show that demand for skiing is increasing.
4. More investment in infrastructure
Despite the pandemic, 117 lifts are due to open in the 2020/2021 season. Almost one-third are in the Alps, increasing the region’s total by 0.9%. Elsewhere, there are new openings in the Rockies (14 lifts), Pacific Coast Ranges (8), Appalachians (10), Scandinavian Mountains (5) and Pyrenees (4).
73 new ski lifts will open in the Alps in 2020/21 for a total of 8,017 in the region