The Alpes Maritimes ski stations, faced by a lack of snow, have had one of their worst winter seasons for 10 years and, according to initial estimates, have suffered a drop in visitors to the order of 30 to 40 percent.
“Those activities directly related to skiing, such as lifts and hire shops have seen business cut in half”, according to Mus Hadade, the director of the Auron station, situated 90km North of Nice at 1600 meters altitude.
“At Gréolières, a mere 38km from Cannes and situated at 1800 meters), the season lasted only 11 days from the 16th to 26 of February. The year before people skied from the 26 December to the end of March. At the same time we have fixed charges throughout the season, it is a disaster.” commented Vincent Casanova, head of the cross country skiing. responsable du ski de fond de cette station à 38 km de Cannes et 47 km de Nice. [I was at Greolieres at Christmas and there were 3 pistes open but very little real snow - David]
At Valberg, 86km from Nice and situated at 1650 meters, “we’ve lost around 457,000 euros this year and this will affect our ability to develop the station”, reckoned the Mayor: Charles-Ange Ginésy. “it would have been worse without artificial snow and the good snow fall just after the February holiday period, in fact without artifical snow we wouldn’t have opened at all this year” Auron is going to double it artifical snow making capacity which today covers 10% of the ski domain.
But do the heads of the Alpes Maritimes ski stations still believe in Sun, Sea and Snow?
The Mayor of Valberg replied that “The February snow fall brought us very motivated clients, we didn’t make up for our losses from the start of the season but limited our losses to 30% for all activities. People visited restaurants and other events.”
Valérie Richier, head of La Colmiane, 1 hour from the coast at 1800 meters confirmed that “Even if our overall numbers were down 40% we had 11% more visitors during February compared to last year”.
Isola 2000 was the only station to make it through the entire season due to its high elevation (pistes to 2600 meters), North facing slopes and microclimate, the Tourist Office director, Dominique Fantino, estimated that “we’ve done about the same business at 2002, which in itself was an exceptional year” [AFP, Nice]