Catalan ski areas invest 34% more this year
The Masella and La Molina ski areas will open their slopes for skiers this weekend. They expect to sell over 2 million ski passes.
Barcelona (ACN).- According to the Associació Catalana d'Estacions d'Esquí i Activitats de Muntanya (ACEM), Catalan ski areas are investing over 29 million euros this season, 34% more than last season. The president of the association, Xavier Nolla, expects ski areas to sell over 2 million ski passes for the upcoming season if last season\u2019s sales trend continues. The Masella and La Molina ski areas are opening up their slopes this weekend, while other ski areas will not begin operating until December. According to Nolla, the newly implemented winter holiday schedule (called \u2018setmana blanca\u2019, a holiday for schools in February) should increase the number of visitors to Catalan ski areas.
The economic crisis has also taken a toll on snow tourism, though climatology is a greater factor. According to Nolla, the last few years have seen paradoxes, such as in 2007, when the crisis hadn\u2019t hit but there was a drought. However, in the last two years records have been beaten, despite the economic crisis.
During a presentation in Barcelona this Thursday, the president of ACEM assured that they are prepared to face delays in reservations and minor expenses for complimentary services.
According to ACEM, Catalan ski areas generate more than 300 million euros in business volume. The annual expense in ski passes is approximately 40 million euros, but rentals, ski classes, bars and stores must be added to this amount.
The general director of tourism for the Ministry of Innovation, Universities and Enterprise, Joan Carles Vilalta, stressed the importance of snow tourism for Catalonia, in which skiing is the \u201Cmost relevant\u201D economic activity. According to him, skiing brings 300 million euros into Catalan counties, representing 17,000 direct workplaces and 60,000 indirect.
Nolla showed optimism for the upcoming winter season, which will be long as the last important holiday for skiing, Easter, is not until the end of April. He explained that the newly implemented holiday ski season (called \u2018setmana blanca\u2019, a skiing holiday for schools) would likely increase the number of visitors to Catalan ski areas. As of now, the weather forecast is favourable during the entire ski season. Ski areas are expecting to sell over 2 million ski passes if they maintain the sales trend from last season, when 700,000 skiers took to Catalan slopes.
The ski season begins this weekend. The Masella and La Molina ski areas will be the first to open their slopes. The Baqueira Beret ski area will open on the 27th and 28th of November and the others are expected to open the first weekend of December.
\u201CThose who resist better are those who reinvest\u201D, said Vilalta. He is satisfied with the investments made by ski areas, increasing by 34% this year, at 29 million euros. The investment is half of that of the entire Spanish State, while the Catalan market makes up only a third of the total ski market.
The president of ACEM said that this could help Barcelona to overtake Zaragoza in becoming the Spanish State\u2019s candidate for the 2020 Winter Olympic Games. In regards to this candidature, the sports delegate for the Barcelona City Hall, Pere Alcover, said that no one took the announcement seriously and that, after some research, it has been shown that is not as impossible as it was thought to be.
The majority of visitors to Catalan ski areas are from nearby. Nolla stated that the main objective is to attract skiers from all neighbouring countries. He also said that in the past few years, the number of visitors from other markets has increased. He mentioned the recent agreement made between the Lleida-Alguiare airport and the British tour operator Nielson, which will bring more skiers in from the UK and Ireland. He hopes the agreement will open the doors for other markets.