SNOW has at last been falling on Scotland’s mountains - so why travel abroad when there are top ski resorts right at your door.
Bosses at Ski Scotland is not only encouraging lifelong snowsport fans to stay at home - offering a season ticket which gives access to every ski lift and tow in the country - but are aiming to attract new blood to the slopes.
Scotland’s five mountain ski areas are CairnGorm Mountain, near Aviemore, Glencoe Mountain Resort, between Tyndrum and Ballachulish, Glenshee Ski Centre, between Blairgowrie and Braemar, Nevis Range, near Fort William, and The Lecht Ski Centre, between Strathdon and Tomintoul.
Using the most recent data and based on the average of the last six seasons, the value to the Scottish economy of snowsports is £26million per year.
With Christmas looming and the first tracks of the season having been made at The Lecht and CairnGorm Mountain, Ski-Scotland has the ideal Christmas gift for the skier or snowboarder.
READ MORE: Scottish Ski-ing better than Alp, Pyrenees
An All-area Season Ticket gives access to every ski lift and tow in Scotland all season long.
Heather Negus, chair of Ski-Scotland, said: “We are looking forward to a successful snowsports season for Scotland in the winter of 2016-17.
“Our marketing effort, funded from the income from the All-area Season Tickets, aims to both grow the market and extend the season.
“We’re working closely with the Scottish snowsports industry to encourage schools across Scotland to get children skiing and snowboarding and to experience a day at one of the five mountain ski areas.”
Andy Meldrum, owner of Glencoe Mountain Resort and chair of the Association of Scottish Ski Areas, added: “All of Scotland’s mountain snowsports resorts have made significant investment in new infrastructure with assistance from the Scottish Government through the Enterprise network.
“We have new chairlifts, new and refurbished tows, new piste groomers and much better provision for young children to learn to ski and just have fun in the snow.
“More of these developments are planned for future winters. Customers returning to the Scottish slopes after an absence of a few years are surprised by the new facilities.
“Why go to Europe when you can stay at home and ski or snowboard at a fraction of the price with no need to worry about airport security, passports and foreign languages?”
Heather Negus said: “There are still All-area Season Tickets available to buy, but we expect them to be snapped up quickly.
“These tickets not only allow our skiers and snowboarders to follow the best snow and weather conditions, but are also the ultimate in queue jumping as no queuing is needed at any ticket office before hitting the slopes.”
The ticket gives access to 143 pistes as well as off-piste and backcountry itineraires across all five mountain snowsport resorts.
These are served by 67 lifts including CairnGorm’s funicular, Nevis Range’s gondola, the Lecht’s ‘Magic carpets’ as well as chairlifts, button lifts and T-bars.
In addition, All-area Season Ticket holders benefit from a free two-hour slope-time session and lift pass discounts at Snow Factor, Scotland’s indoor real snow centre and also, following a landmark agreement in September, free access to two days’ skiing or boarding at each of Iceland’s 11 snowsport areas.
Tickets are still available to purchase, price £535 adult and £300 child between five and seventeen years of age at 1 December 2016.
Heather’s advice is: “Hit the website as soon as possible to be assured of getting one of these last-minute tickets. They’re disappearing like snow off a dyke.”
READ MORE: Find out more about a season ticket
The season usually runs from December through to early April, but this varies depending on snowfall. Snow conditions are very changeable, but are generally best from January to April,
In the excellent season of 2009/10 it was worth much more, £37.5million.
For each £1 spent at a snowsports area, it is estimated, again using most recent data, that a further £4 is spent by skiers and snowboarders “off the hill” in local accommodation, places to eat and drink, shops, and filling stations.
The statistic show that 2014-15 there were 231,233 skier days, worth £23.2m. The year before it was 235,303 days, worth half a million pounds more. In 2012-13, the skier days were 231,233 valued at £23.2m. The previous year was the worst in recent history, with only 118,592 people on the slopes, bringing £12m to the economy. In 20-11 it was 289,995 skier days worth £29m.
Although snow is never guaranteed, all the Scottish ski areas now have snowmaking facilities, and some also have dry slopes. There’s also a vast range of other activities to choose from locally, if the hill is stormbound or snow conditions are poor.
The ski reports are updated by each ski centre during the season. They are updated early morning, late afternoon, and more often as required. The live webcams show real time conditions.
Within the UK it is easy to reach the Scottish snowsports resorts for a day or short break, even at the last minute.
Ski-ing and snowboarding in Scotland is value for money - you don’t need a passport, costly travel insurance or foreign currency - unless you’re visiting Scotland from overseas.
Ski-Scotland is the marketing partnership which has promoted snowsports in Scotland collaboratively for around 30 years.
It comprises the five mountain ski areas - CairnGorm Mountain, Glencoe Mountain, Glenshee, The Lecht and Nevis Range - the sport’s governing body Snowsport Scotland, indoor real-snow centre Snow Factor in Glasgow and VisitScotland, the country’s tourism agency.
Ski-Scotland is now funded entirely by the income generated from the All-area Season Tickets, now in their eighth winter season.
Find out more about all the ski resorts here: http://www.skiscotland.com/