More than half of Britons would still go skiing even if they were forced to quarantine on their return to the UK, a new poll by Club Med reveals.
Traditional destinations such as Switzerland (24%), France (23%), Austria (19%) and Italy (18%) top the table of places people plan to visit.
The continued popularity of ski resorts in these Alpine countries reflects the fact that 52% said they would still go on a winter sports holiday even if they had to quarantine on arrival back in the UK, according to research by the all-inclusive operator.
A further 60% also said that a proposed ‘test and release’ scheme, which would reduce quarantine on return to one week, would make them more likely to book a winter holiday regardless of a country’s travel corridor status.
A total of 52% who were unable to get away last winter as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of resorts worldwide have already re-booked for the coming season.
That rises to 80% of Club Med clients having already rebooked for their ski holiday between December and April.
The findings follow the collapse of specialist operator VIP Ski, blaming Covid and government policy on travel restrictions.
The top priority for British winter holidaymakers polled by Club Med is that resorts have social distancing measures, with 60% saying this is vital, followed by regular cleaning (50%), accessible hand sanitiser (47%), Covid-19 testing on site (46%) and compulsory use of masks in public places (45%).
More than half of all holidaymakers would want the guarantee of a refundable stay (50%) and a Covid-19 insurance policy (57%) before booking future holidays.
This year half of people are booking their winter holiday later with 69% planning on booking less than a month in advance and over a third (35%) less than two weeks before departure.
This is in stark contrast to 2019 when only 5% of people booked their winter sports holiday less than three months in advance.
More than three quarters (77%) are considering breaks shorter than a week, wit Club Med claiming a doubling in five-day ski bookings against just 16% last year.
However, 43% are prepared to spend more on this year’s winter sports trip compared to previous years.
Almost two in five (38%) plan to take a winter ski break this season because they missed out on a summer holiday.
More than one in ten (13%) would be booking a winter sports holiday instead of their usual cruise and almost one in four (24%) plan a winter ski trip instead of a long-haul winter sun holiday in 2021.
Twelve per cent said they would consider Scotland in the future, with similar numbers looking to Norway (11%) and Sweden (11%) due to the relatively low Covid-19 case numbers in those countries, if and when travel restrictions are lifted.
Covid-19 has also led people to think about alternative means of transportation. The Channel Tunnel and driving has become an increasingly popular choice for winter sports enthusiasts looking for more flexibility. Nearly half (44%) are now considering destinations that are easier to drive to avoid flying.
A latent desire to travel more sustainably is also becoming more apparent, with 14% of people citing eco credentials as a deciding factor when booking a holiday.
More than half (52%) of those polled consider a resort’s sustainability credentials before making a booking, with this being the greatest concern for those aged between 16-29 years (61%) followed by 30-44-year-olds (59%).
Club Med UK and northern Europe managing director Estelle Giraudeau said: “With some tour operators reducing their chalet offering this year, we want to ensure our customers that they can get the extra space and level of privacy they desire.
“Reflecting this, we have seen the average order value online at Club Med up by 10% year-on-year as more customers are demanding privacy and space in the current climate, and still have money to spend on holidays that may have been previously allocated elsewhere in 2020.
“We also believe the all-inclusive ski holiday model will be more attractive than ever, with customers safe in the knowledge that their holidays are Atol-protected, guaranteeing our customers are not going to be hit with lots of additional costs after booking.
“With prices and currencies fluctuating in these uncertain times coupled with Brexit due to take place during the upcoming season, locking in a price in advance is more important than ever and will help to provide peace of mind for our customers.”
She added: “Reassurance will be key this year and all-inclusive operators have also been at the forefront of Covid-19 protection schemes.
“In order to ensure our guests still have an enjoyable experience this ski season, we have undertaken a number of stringent health and safety measures which are designed to protect everyone while retaining facilities and activities that are faithful to the Club Med experience.
“2020 has been an unprecedented year in the industry but we are seeing that skiers and snowboarders are a passionate and committed group who are desperate to get back on the slopes.
“While people are understandably cautious in the current context, we know they will bounce back as soon as they are able.”
Club Med is opening a new resort in La Rosiere in France (pictured) in December and its first Canadian resort, Quebec Charlevoix.