Ski resorts in France have been criticised by tour operators for banning ski hosts from showing guests around the slopes. (Featured image by color line)
The majority of ski holiday companies offer customers a free ski hosting service, where a ski host guides guests around a resort.
No instruction is given as part of the service, which is popular with guests as they are shown the best pistes in the resort and don’t have to get their piste map out every five minutes.
Yet the French authorities have put a stop to the service, claiming it breaks laws stating that all leaders of organised groups must be qualified instructors.
The dispute started when a ski host from British ski company Le Ski was stopped by police on the slopes in the resort of Meribel, and told his actions were illegal.
Le Ski was summoned to a local courthouse where the ruling was made. The tour operator has said it will appeal the decision.
“We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the local court has found us to be in breach of the law concerning ski instructing,” said Nick Morgan, managing director of Le Ski.
“The ski hosting service posed no safety threat and to suggest so is disingenuous. The action has been taken against us and the tour operator community on protectionist grounds.”
The decision by the French authorities, which could see hundreds of British ski hosts lose their job, has been criticised by a number of big tour operators.
“We have temporarily suspended our social skiing service in France while this process goes through the courts,” said a spokesman for Crystal Ski.
“We have never seen social skiing as a replacement for a ski school as social skiing is where a representative from the holiday company takes guests on familiarisation tours of the slopes, show them good lunch spots and how to avoid the queues.”
He added: “They do not go on black runs or off piste and stick to gentle slopes. No instruction is given.”
Travel experts have said that the decision could be detrimental to the ski tourism industry in France, as holidaymakers go elsewhere to take advantage of ski hosting services.