Has Cham killed the golden goose?

According to journalist Antoine Chandelier Chamonix has been hit hard by the credit crunch. The area relies on rich British and Russian visitors for its fortunes. Over half of guests come from abroad.

Hoteliers in the valley say that reservations are down by 15% and its worse for restaurants which report sales down by a whopping 30%. The Chamonix McDonalds must be doing good business, especially as it is one of the few establishments which has passed on the 5.5% VAT rate . Even lift pass turnover is down 6% on last year. Easter reservations are currently running at 59% compared to 73% for a selection of other French resorts.

Chamonix is trying to market itself to last minute visitors but some valley residents say the area has relied too long on the symbol of Mont Blanc and rich foreign guests.

Despite a recent change in the administration there are complaints that the valley has not invested sufficiently, particularly for summer visitors. They bemoan a lack of infrastructure such as good cycle routes or an efficient bus service.

However the drop in visitor numbers may also be due to the good overall snow conditions which has seen a rise in booking in other ski areas including the Pyrenees, Southern Alps and Massif Central. Despite a rise in visitor numbers this winter there are only a certain number of skier/days to go around. Chamonix also had a very good winter last year due to poor snow elsewhere early in the season.

CHAMONIX La “capitale” fait grise mine

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 05 April, 2009 at 11:28 PM

You are lucky guys. If I want to ski in my region I pay 23 EUR for a vertical of 250 m and the longest descent is 1.500. For lunch at “Möppi’s” you pay around 10 EUR. The highest peak is the “Kahler Asten”, 840,7 m. This season I started doing some “skitouring” (avoiding skipasses), yes with skins. And then I met a Spaniard there doing the same thing, that was strange. Bookings are good, here the worry is always: Will there be (enough) snow?

Posted by  on  Thursday, 09 April, 2009  at 08:46 AM

Did you guys in Europe know that we idiots in USA pay at a good ski are close to $100 for a day of skiing, and a seasons pass is about $1300 to 1800.  Thank you Crown family.

Posted by  on  Saturday, 11 April, 2009  at 05:12 PM

I’ve lived in Cham for ten years and about five years ago bought a house there. I know plenty of brits/foreigners who work really hard to maintain their quality of life in Cham and plenty more who couldn’t cut it and had to go home. In the midst of all this I’m really bored of these useless generalisations about stacks of cash and stupid tourists, everyone I know I cham spends pretty much their entire income, be it 500 or 50,000euro a month, on living. This is the same as London, Paris and Sallanches there is nothing weird or different about the economics of living in Cham.

What is needed though is for Cham to sort out it’s schizophrenia, repeat business (which I understand is the key to success) will never prosper until issues such as the management of lift lines, transport (green transport) and quality of service on the mountain improves for the visitors.

What I mean by this is: if Cham is going to be a hardcore area serving hardcore skiers then that is one particular set of criteria that needs to be adhered to however if Cham has set its sights on the well heeled then this is a contradictory criteria. Russian fat cats don’t want to be sharing bar space with Scando ski bums, and vice versa I’m sure but I’m even more sure that like belly buttons everyone will have their preferences about which flavour of visitors they’d like to see in town (even the persisting delusion at the tourist office of high disposable income, ski mad, French families – they must exist, but not in the Cham saving numbers required). What I’m completely sure about though is that trying to please everyone is sure to result in pleasing no one and after reading this I guess I must be right?

PS A annual pass for residents is ca 500euro, this is stunning value for money in anyone’s language.

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 21 April, 2009  at 12:49 PM
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