March 30, 2015 – 11:30PM
Just 48 per cent of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory tourists said they would consider heading to Thredbo, Perisher and Smiggin Holes in the next two years.
The number of Canberrans who plan to holiday at Snowy Mountains skifields has dropped to below 50 per cent despite an increasing number of keen skiers in the country.
The results, in a new Roy Morgan Research survey taken in 2014, show how cheaper flights and a high Australian dollar lured tourists overseas.
Roy Morgan chairman Gary Morgan predicts falling iron ore prices and a lower dollar would bring Aussies back to the mountains.
The survey found more Australians are skiing and snowboarding than ever, with 933,000 adults and teenagers saying they go regularly or occasionally, up from 773,000 in 2012.
But interest in local skifields deteriorated in 2014.
Just 48 per cent of NSW and ACT tourists said they would consider heading to Thredbo, Perisher and Smiggin Holes in the next two years – down from 53 per cent in 2012.
National interest also waned with just 27 per cent of all Australian skiers and snowboarders saying they would be interested in the same Snowy Mountains fields, down from 33 per cent in 2012.
Mr Morgan said Australians’ ability to afford overseas trips explain the results.
“It reflects two things – there is a change in the value of the Australian dollar so it would have been less expensive when this survey was done to go overseas, and we had the bad publicity over the drought and global warming,” he said.
While it was a good season overall for the Snowys last year, the snowfields of Thredbo and Perisher were close to bald just one day before the official opening of the ski season.
A keen skier himself, Mr Morgan was upbeat about the future.
“I think it will pick up. The dollar has been so high, but now that has changed, with the dollar falling and our commodity prices and iron ore prices falling, things will change.
“People will think more about having a holiday in Australia rather than going overseas. This year [the local ski industry] will have a much better year,” he said.
But he warned renewed interest in the Snowys was dependent on economic conditions.
“The other problem we have is consumer confidence is lower and people are very concerned about unemployment, particularly since more young people are unemployed. So that won’t help,” Mr Morgan said.
Angela Smith, group account director of tourism and travel at Roy Morgan, said Australian skiers and snowboarders were flocking to different parts of Europe, the US and New Zealand.
“Although The Alps – bordering Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany – are still the world’s biggest ski destination, Eastern European resorts are also becoming more popular,” she said.
The Canberra Times