The number of Britons taking a skiing holiday last winter rose for the sixth year, but at a slower pace than in 2005/06, according to Crystal Holidays’ 2007 Ski Industry Report.

France is still Britain’s favourite ski destination – just over 37% of UK skiers chose to ski there, well ahead of nearest rivals Austria on 19% and Italy at 13.8%.

Crystal remains the largest ski operator, but its market share was slightly down at 23.4%, followed by Inghams and Thomson.

Crystal product and marketing director Gareth Crump said: “France benefits from the popularity of the chalet and club hotel product and its high-altitude resorts. Austria lost out because its low-lying resorts suffered from poor snowfall.”

Crump said there was a solid start to 2007/08 sales, but forecast high fuel costs, security concerns and memories of poor snow at the start of last season making this winter a challenge.

Other operators remain optimistic about this season. Mark Warner said bookings were already up 10% across its European resorts – and that last year was one of the best ever, due to its high-level, snow-sure resorts.

Inghams also said winter 2007/08 was looking promising, with bookings for many areas ahead of last year. Chief executive Litsa Constantinou said: “We expect growth in many of the popular destinations and also that the trend for people taking multiple ski holidays will continue.”

For Neilson, high-altitude and snow-sure resorts are selling particularly well. Head of product and planning Andy Harmer commented: “Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish resorts are proving attractive, as are the Canadian resorts, which enjoyed fantastic snow last winter.”