SCOTLAND’S ski centres say they are expecting the bumper season to continue as they gear up for the English half term.
The country’s five ski areas have reported a rise in the number of skiers and snowboarders this year thanks to healthy snow cover and clear weather on the slopes.
A forecast of further snow showers and sun towards the end of the week coincides with the start of the English schools’ half term break, with resorts predicting a very busy weekend.
The combination of fresh overnight snow and bright, sunny conditions are ideal for skiing and are known by enthusiasts as “bluebird days”.
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National snowsports promoter Ski-Scotland is advising snow seekers to plan ahead to avoid queues on the roads and at ticket offices.
Centres saw a surge in visitors following heavy snowfall in mid-January, creating long traffic queues and some frustrated skiers.
Police were reportedly called in Glencoe, where motorists trying to get to the slopes parked on the verge of the A82, blocking the road.
Ski-Scotland chairwoman Heather Negus said: “Resorts have already welcomed more skiers and snowboarders than at the same point last season, and they do expect to be busy over the remainder of half term.
“You can effectively queue-jump by reserving equipment and buying tickets online or even just by having cash available on the day to take advantage of fast-serve ‘cash only’ ticket windows.
“Book lessons well ahead - some snowsports schools only have a few places left in some classes and leave home early to arrive early. Better still, book accommodation nearby so you can be among the first on the slopes. Also have a look at our top tips for half term on the official website www.ski-scotland.com.”
She added: “It looks as though we will have great sliding conditions with some good overhead weather, perhaps even some bluebird days.”
Snowsports support more than 600 jobs in Scotland and provide a significant boost to the winter tourism economy, with figures suggesting that for every £1 spent at a ski station, a further £4 is spent off the slopes.
More than 235,000 skiers and snowboarders visited the country’s five resorts during the 2013-14 season, bringing in an estimated £23.7 million for the economy.
Poorer weather conditions and storm damage meant the figure was down from the £29.27 million generated in 2012-2013.
The Scottish Government announced a £5.5 million funding boost earlier this month to help ski centres upgrade their infrastructure.
Glenshee and Glencoe are due to replace their chair lifts at a cost of £2.4 million and £1.8 million respectively and the Lecht and Nevis Range will spend £456,000 and £707,000 upgrading their tow lifts.
Scotland’s fifth centre, Cairngorm Mountain near Aviemore, was also recently upgraded.