From November to April each year, travellers from South African embrace the evolving trends in Alpine destinations, transforming the once-elusive snow holiday into an immersive experience for adventure seekers and winter enthusiasts. With this in mind, pioneers in all-inclusive holidays and leaders in worldwide snow holidays, Club Med Southern Africa have just released their South African Ski Report for the 2023/2024 season.
The report was compiled following a comprehensive survey capturing insights to discern key trends in South Africa’s snow holiday preferences, expectations, and booking profiles.
The geographical distribution of respondents revealed that 45% were from Gauteng, 30.7% from the Western Cape, 14.3% from KwaZulu Natal, and 10% from other regions.
The skier profile highlighted the top five considerations for a snow holiday, with wide and varied ski domains, authenticity, choice of non-ski activities, proximity to nature/sports, and après-ski/festive spirit ranking highest. Notably, 93.2% of respondents have traveled internationally post-Covid. The survey also disclosed skiing preferences, such as the favorite snow holiday activities, the preferred ski period, and the number of days skiing in one week.
In terms of preferred snow destinations, the survey found that France led the preferences with *71.9%, followed by Switzerland at 62.1%, Italy at 60.7%, Austria at 56.8%, and other destinations (USA, Canada, Japan, Eastern Europe) at 7.2%.
Regarding the time of booking, respondents indicated various preferences, with 11.3% booking more than a year in advance, 39.5% booking 6-11 months before, 35% booking 3-6 months before, 12.6% booking 1-3 months before, and 1.3% booking less than a month before their snow holiday.
Accommodation is a key consideration for holidaymakers and 78.4% expressed a preference for a resort with an all-inclusive package for the convenience they offer in terms of budgeting and planning, followed by hotels at 45.4%, rental chalets at 37.1%, rental apartments at 21.7%, and personal housing at 4.6%.
As for the favourite snow holiday activities, skiing was the most popular at 79.9%, followed by gastronomy at 77.8%, hiking at 58.8%, ski touring at 57.7%, swimming at 48.9%, yoga fitness at 19.7%, and after-ski activities at 9.5%.
Despite economic constraints, the South African ski market is displaying solid growth, showcasing a resilient spirit among individuals prioritising holidays as a means of exploring life and seeking new adventures.
The report also sees Olivier Perillat-Piratoine, Managing Director of Club Med, shedding light on the remarkable post-lockdown demand for winter holidays in South Africa, highlighting the exceptional rebound in revenue and customer volume, particularly in France.
Addressing the appeal of Club Med’s all-inclusive model, Perillat-Piratoine emphasises the value of the comprehensive package, encompassing accommodation, food and beverage, entertainment, ski lessons, and more. Contrary to the perception of DIY ski holidays being more economical, Club Med’s all-inclusive snow holiday offerings provide a compelling price-quality ratio and a seamless, hassle-free booking experience. Notably, the introduction of the Snow Guarantee ensures a worry-free experience, offering alternative resorts at no extra cost in the event of low snowfall.
The report also sees Hélène Bezuidenhout from Atout France (the France Tourism Development Agency) sharing insight into France’s timeless appeal, catering to all generations and groups. The success of the 2023 Rugby World Cup elevated France as a sought-after destination, with a rise in international tourism revenue and growing satisfaction among South African tourists. Collaborations between South Africa, Club Med, and Atout France contribute to providing not just a destination but an opportunity to reconnect and create unforgettable experiences.
With over 40 years of experience, Lew Campbell, the visionary behind The Ski Deck, discusses the evolution of skiing and snowboarding in South Africa. As a service provider catering to beginner and avid skiers or snowboarders in South Africa, Campbell notes the inclusive shift in the ski industry whereby the activity is no longer aligned to certain racial demographics. And the role of facilities like The Ski Deck has aided in fostering interest and enhancing the ski training experience for both novices and advanced skiers.
The report also sheds light on Club Med’s commitment to responsible tourism, which is evident through its Happy to Care program, eliminating single-use plastics across ski resorts and achieving Green Globe certification for all eligible resorts. The Club Med Tignes resort, inaugurated in December 2022, stands as the first mountain hotel in France with a “Very Good” BREEAM certification rating, exemplifying the brand’s dedication to sustainable practices. The environmentally conscious approach extends to renovation practices, emphasising refurbishments over new constructions.
As South Africans venture into the world of skiing, Club Med remains dedicated to offering enriching experiences, promoting sustainability, and creating memories that span continents and endure through time.
*survey respondents were able to choose multiple answers for some questions