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UK Skiers go East

Despite the continuing strength of the euro and other European currencies against sterling, Europe emerges as a better prospect for cash-strapped skiers this winter than the USA in the Post Office Travel Services Ski Resort Report for 2008.

Eastern Europe remains the best value for bargain hunters while the eurozone’s big three - France, Switzerland and Austria - also look set to benefit after price rises hit US resorts. As a result of these and the dip in value for sterling, the USA has now overtaken Canada to become the most expensive destination of 14 surveyed by the Post Office.

Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia are by far the cheapest ski destinations surveyed by the Post Office for its annual report. However, Poiana Brasov (Romania) is now the lowest-priced resort for ski equipment, drinks and meals, taking over the top spot from Borovets because of the impact of sharp resort price rises in the Bulgarian resort and sterling’s drop against the Bulgarian lev ( a total of +47 per cent year on year).

Second-placed Slovakia, is one of two emerging countries (Finland is the other) to rate as significantly cheaper than more established ski resorts - even though the Slovakian korun has shown the largest surge in value against sterling year-on-year of any featured destination (18.82 per cent).

Whether or not prices will rise from January, when Slovakia joins the eurozone, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the Post Office advises skiers planning trips to Slovakia before the end of the year to purchase korun by 31st October or to take euros.

However, UK skiers considering transatlantic trips will find that US prices have soared by 55 per cent in the past year. Hit by the double blow of higher resort costs and sterling’s slump against the dollar, skiers in Vail, Colorado face paying two and a half times as much as they would in eastern Europe. Its prices are also 19 per cent higher than in Banff, Canada - one of only two resorts in the Post Office survey where costs dropped (Canada: -6 per cent; Norway: -2 per cent).

Helen Warburton, Post Office® head of travel said: "Although the pound will not stretch as far for UK skiers as in previous years, there is still good value to be had. The emerging ski resorts outside the eurozone will be excellent choices for beginners and for families on a tight budget.

"Skiers can also benefit from booking early as a range of incentives are being offered by UK tour operators - and there is also the prospect of fuel surcharges being dropped, which will cut the cost of flying."

UK skiers can purchase euros at over 8,000 Post Office bureaux de change branches this winter.

Post Office Ski Resort Report 2008: total costs of ski prices and basic commodities with 2007 positions in brackets. Percentage cost movements given in brackets after prices:

1 (2) Romania (Poiana Brasov) £200.04 (+18%)
2 (new) Slovakia (High Tatras) £236.28 (n/a)
3 (1) Bulgaria (Borovets) £241.10 (+47%)
4 (5) Italy (La Thuile) £272.29 (+10%)
5 (new) Finland (Ylläs) £280.75 (n/a)
6 (3) Slovenia (Kranjska Gora) £281.06 (+26%)
7 (4) Germany (Garmisch-Partenkirchen) £289.97 (+19%)
8 (8) Norway (Geilo) £307.51 (-2%)
9 (7) Andorra (Soldeu) £318.80 (+16%)
10 (9) Austria (Obergurgl) £354.93 (+11%)
11 (6) France (Courchevel) £380.58 (+41%)
12 (10) Switzerland (Verbier) £395.81 (+21%)
13 (12) Canada (Banff) £431.83 (-6%)
14 (11) USA (Vail) £514.86 (+55%)

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