Mon, 30 Sep 2013 – By John Hill
A cold war has broken out between British tour operators and French resorts, over the problem of ski guiding. French law dictates anyone leading skiers on slopes must be properly qualified, and in France this means a 2 year university degree course.
But English tour operators, particularly the chalet operators, have been flouting this law by getting unqualified staff, such as cooks, cleaners and drivers to take guests out on the slopes. The French, after many years of warning tour operators, finally brought the law into full force last year by arresting and fining a leading tour operator (Le Ski).
The tour operators have meanwhile formed ranks, threatening to move from France to Austria and Italy instead. To further aggravate the situation, Crystal have stopped using the ESF and given all business to Ski Evolution in the major resorts.
We at the GSG have long felt that whilst most tour operators simply use their staff to show people the nearest lifts, best restaurants etc, but many abused this by using staff to take guests out on full ski days and multi-resort tours. Now the recession is hitting France, the ski resorts have started to take action, at the behest of the ESF.
Where do we stand? Whilst 10 years ago we fought the French for banning British trained instructors – the French are right this time however. It’s the law of their land that you must be a qualified instructor to lead at all, and we should all respect that.
We also think that the British tour operators should show British politeness in their host country, by following the law.