Ski industry Covid-19 losses are huge!

snow action team 19.03.2020

Ski industry Covid-19 losses are huge on any measure, with early closures of resorts across the Alps and much of North America taking out what is normally a lucrative chunk of the season through March to Easter. Based on simply extrapolating the percentage of season earnings normally taken from March onwards, over 30% of revenue will be lost.

Have to space those deckchairs out a bit © Shaun Mittwollen

English luxury ski tour operator Oxford Ski puts this figure as high as GBP 154 billion, which seems very high indeed. They have based their estimates on 38% of bookings normally being made post-February.

We are not quite as pessimistic, but by any estimation ski industry Covid-19 losses will still be huge.

The American snow industry is estimated to be worth around USD 20 billion a year (according to university research there), and the North American industry is around 20% of the World market, which gives a USD 100 billion World dollar total.

The Alps (across Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy) are 44% of that market (according to the World Ski Report an annual compilation of ski date from round the globe), so thats USD 45 billion or so. Take 30% out of that and Europe’s big ski industry resort countries will lose around USD 15 billion as a scary ball park figure.

Add USD 6 billion for North America, and a few billion more for other parts of Europe and Asia, where even if – like most of Japan – resorts have stayed open, numbers are way down – and the totals escalate to USD 25 billion plus.

Add in the multiplying effects of airline losses, other transport operator losses, accommodation, restaurants, aprés venues etc, and the list goes on and on.

At least Revi had a huge season already in the can! © Revelstoke

The industry has never faced a hit like this. On the bright side at least good seasons in key North American areas like Jackson Hole, Revelstoke, Aspen etc, and passable ones in the Alps, have been an improvement in many cases on last year. And should have got most businesses over the line season wise already.

The hit is huge though, and inevitably that will hit investment. Since the World’s biggest resort player, Vail Resorts, also owns 3 of Australia’s big 5 ski resorts the knock on effects downunder of that are unavoidable.

Japan of course had the mildest winter for a long time (a 100 years according to villagers at Ainokura Gassho village in Nanto). But there was – and indeed is, still plenty of great skiing to be had there. Obviously on balance though their industry has suffered with the Chinese market basically shut down since mid-January on top of the poor snow season.

What happens next up north is in the lap of the control measures in place. Best case scenario things plateau within a few months and the worst is over, normal life starts to resume. And airlines resume flying. Worse cases it’s wait for a vaccine.

Downunder the ski resorts already lost most of their summer season from the bushfires, with huge losses for them and lots of local businesses. Will things be under control enough in 3 months for the ski season to start? Let’s hope so. Could be a lot of self-isolated backcountry skiing happening as the only alternative otherwise.

For the seasonal workers – all those people who do the engine room work that keeps our resorts functioning in winter – the traditional doing a season lifestyle inevitably involves a lot of close contact living, in an environment where regular colds and flu are rampant at the best of times. Surely if the season does go ahead it will be with some limitations.

It may sound silly, but the ideas Sunshine in Alberta had this month to limit people on lifts and eliminate singles lines so you are meant to ride up only with people you are already in contact with may become the temporary new normal. Packed aprés venues won’t cut it either.

Bottom line already it is looking seriously like we will be bloody lucky to have any sort of snow season at all. If we don’t, that’s more multi billion dollar losses those, like us, who depend on the snow for their livelihood will all be losing.

So right now the more people use their common sense and get deadly serious about hygiene and social distancing and looking out for each other the better it will be for all of us. The sooner this thing plateaus the better.

And stop buying toilet paper !!!!!

Will lonely lines be the only lines downunder this winter? © Owain Price