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Published on Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Operators to fight ban on ski hosts

British ski operators have been forced to temporarily suspend their ski hosting services for clients in French resorts after a court banned the practice.

A court in the French town of Albertville has ruled that ski hosting - whereby tour operators help clients find their way around the slopes - breaks French law. It said leaders of organised groups on the ski slopes have to be qualified ski or snowboard instructors.

The case was brought by the French authorities, in conjunction with the ESF national ski school, against minnow British ski operator Le Ski, which operates in a handful of French resorts.

Le Ski has said it will appeal against the decision, which is being used as a test case for all British operators.

TravelMole Associate Editor Linsey McNeill is staying this week in Courchevel as a guest of Ski Total, which offers "social skiing" with a ski host on three days a week.

The service is very popular and on Monday 10 guests joined one of its hosts on a tour of Courchevel 1650.

On Tuesday the service was suspended, much to the disappointment of guests in the Chalet Cascades.

Moira Clarke, head of marketing for Ski Total and Esprit, said the French have misunderstood what the hosting service is all about.

"They think we must be taking money away from the ski schools, but we send hundreds and thousands of people to the ski schools," she said.

"The hosting service is not tuition, it's purely a social aspect of going skiing where our reps help people find their way around and tell them the best restaurants to eat at and so on."

She said UK operators were backing the appeal by Le Ski and were hoping for a turn-around.

"In the meantime we are all in a limbo," she said.


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    & it's very cheap & safer in Colorado than dodgy France.

    By Michael Anderson, Thursday, February 21, 2013

  • A French own goal

    I , along with many of my friends, have long since given up on France for skiing despite their good resorts and great snow. The arrogance and perception that British skiers were only tolerated in order that the cafe/ bar/restaurant owners could afford their holiday homes in the Caribbean was perceptible. The high resorts of Austria/ Italy & Switzerland are considerably more welcoming. This ruling will ensure more British skiers follow in our footsteps

    By barry keating, Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • what a load of garbage !!!

    if someone wants to guide someone else around a ski resort, no one can stop them, in fact it can been seen as a safety issue. Signage in French ski resorts is very poor & not a good look when skiers "accidentally" ski off a cliff & die !!! Message is very clear, DON'T SKI FRANCE (plenty of other countreis want your business even if arrogant French don't). Last time I looked French economy was really going down the toilet like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy & USA.

    By Michael Anderson, Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • You can see both sides...

    This story has been running for many decades and this is the latest flare up. You can see both sides and there's no straight answer. I think when it was last in the courts the 'hosts' were called 'guides' and that upset the French where their 'guides' are highly qualified/experienced mountain guides wheras the tour op guides, like the hosts, just gave people an overview of the ski area like a city guide might a city. No tuition takes place but they are paid. The hosts don't go off piste or on steeper terrain. The ESF (which has been the main protagonist through the decades) has sought to have its cake and eat it - wanting the courts to ban ski hosts but also wanting to distance itself from direct responsibility for the decision, employing a UK PR company to say they didn't bring the case and they're keen to work with UK tour operators. They say its about emplopment law and health and safety. But ski chat rooms are full of people unhappy with the ESF and the case is dragging up lots of other general dissatisfaction with the ESF for its ski teaching. And a lot of people are pointing out this only seems to be an issue in France, not in other countries where the scenario is identical, so why not just not go skiing in France? So it may be counter productive for the ESF in the long term...

    By Patrick Thorne, Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • When is a ski host not a ski host?

    I haven't read the court ruling. But I'm guessing the case turns on the exact status (are they paid?) and role (When does advice become instruction?) of a ski host and when this crosses the line into the sort of ski guiding provided by the ski schools. Under the widest definition nobody would be allowed to ski with anyone else. I suspect the ESF fears that widespread, tour operator lead, guiding will eat into their own market.

    By David Burdon, Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • I dont think the French misunderstand

    The French know exactly what they are doing in this case. They are French afterall.

    By Vince Furnier, Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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