After two seasons severely restricted by the pandemic, the Scottish ski industry faces a decisive winter.
Snowsport Scotland chief executive Trafford Wilson is optimistic that lingering uncertainty over overseas travel, as well as people inspired by the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, should create the right conditions as the country’s five stations prepare to fully open this month.
Over 750,000 tickets are typically sold at Scottish winter sports venues each year in an industry that potentially brings in more than £ 30million to the economy each year.
The Scottish ski industry also supports a workforce of over 1,000, as well as nearly 50 elite athletes involved in the Snowsport Scotland performance program.
The past two years have been tough for the industry – with the disruption of the Stop and Start of Covid-19 restrictions halting ticket sales, resulting in a £ 20million cut in revenue for sports facilities winter.
Governing body Snowsport Scotland has independently verified facility losses due to the pandemic over the past two winter seasons – even taking into account the mitigation of holidays, layoffs and deferred capital payments – to over £ 12million.
Despite the difficulties, Trafford Wilson, who marks four years at the helm of Snowsport Scotland in May, believes that Covid-19 has offered an opportunity by putting the industry under the microscope and underlining its importance to the Scottish tourism industry.
“While Covid has been a huge puzzle to say the least, it has also garnered increased support from the Scottish government and other agencies and promoted the national significance of the snow sports industry. “
In response to numerous financial setbacks, the Scottish Government has provided a £ 7million ski center fund to protect Scotland’s commercially managed winter sports centers: Nevis Mountain Range, Glencoe Mountain Resort, The Lecht Ski Center, Glenshee Ski Center, Bearden Snowsports Center, Snow Factor Glasgow, Newmilns Snowsports Center and Glasgow Ski and Snowboard Center.
However, for the centers and the communities around them to thrive, Wilson believes more investment is needed, which will hopefully be achieved, in part, by strong ticket sales over the coming winter season. .
“There is a golden opportunity to get people to think about coming to Scotland as concerns about overseas travel persist – we hope this opportunity will allow more people than ever to experience the sports of snow in UK.
“It’s fundamentally important that we have a good season,” Wilson continued. “We want people to ski and snowboard in Scotland, enjoy it and make it a habit in the future. “
Meanwhile, plans to further develop The Lecht into a year-round attraction have secured more than £ 73,000 in net zero funding.
The money will be used to install charging points for electric vehicles – powered by its existing wind turbine – as well as a new playground, an improved catering offer and the creation of a new family mountain bike trail.
The Lechts are also in the process of moving from a paper ticket office to an automated digital ticketing system.
The funds are provided by Highlands and Islands Enterprise on behalf of the Scottish Government, as part of a £ 3.95million pledge to Scottish tourism in March.
Pieter du Pon, Managing Director of Lecht Ski Company, said: “The support is exceptionally useful for the various projects that we are finishing this year or early next year.
“Ski centers in particular need to do everything in our power to reduce the effects of climate change and these projects are moving us in the right direction.
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