Specialist ski agents and operators have seen sales for the forthcoming season dry up in the last few weeks as the global economic downturn hits home.

Sales had originally proved strong, buoyed by last season’s excellent snow falls and the fact that the spring term half term is taking place over one week as opposed to two like last year.

However, Snow Finders managing director Nick Edwards said the situation soon changed as the economic situation worsened, adding: “Early sales were extremely strong but then it was like turning off a tap in July and August.

“We had our best June ever and were 141% up year for year but there’s definitely a downturn now, we see the offers and deals coming in and we know they (tour operators) are struggling.”

Edwards said the fall in demand means the agency is now level with last year’s sales figures although he is confident the lates market will be strong while snow forecasts are also positive.

TUI ski managing director Mathew Prior, who oversees Crystal, Thomson and First Choice, said business fell dramatically in August although TUI has trimmed capacity in some less popular resorts like Andorra at the start and the end of the season.

He added: “People are shopping around and are more price sensitive than last year although Christmas, New Year and January are extremely well sold.”

Prior said the US had suffered worse than Europe largely thanks to fuel supplements and the dollar which is falling quicker than the euro against the pound.

Inghams public relations manager Lynsey Devon said the operator has seen double-digit growth until the last three weeks when sales stalled although customers are still interested.

She said: “People are looking at the cheaper resorts lower down than the top high resorts as we had such good snow last year.”