Ski vacations have been increasing in popularity over the last twenty years, and Andorra has been increasing her visitor numbers to over ten million per annum for ski holidays and happily investing for the future to ensure she remains as one of Europe?s top ski destinations ? but that came to a screeching halt this year when the one thing a ski destination really needs didn?t arrive ? snow.
The Andorra authorities are hoping that the lack of snow which kept so many regular visitors as well as new ones away this year is a one off, and that snow in November will mean a normal level of bookings for the new 2007/8 season.
But if this year is a sign of things to come for the European ski industry as a result of global warming, Andorra is considering a future with little snow, and having to diversify.
Andorra is a tax free country, and benefits from high employment in the financial services and banking sectors, but reports from the country suggest that revenue raising via a new corporate tax is being considered.
But according to a local travel guide for Andorra this is unlikely.
?Introducing a corporation tax could be counter-productive as a revenue raiser?, they say. Continuing ?Andorra is along with Monaco Europe?s most complete tax haven, and it would give high net worth individuals who would be looking for residency in Andorra and spending money in the country second thoughts. The Andorra authorities know that they can?t start introducing personal income tax because that really would kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Take away Andorra?s ski industry and the country?s in trouble ? take away her tax haven status too and it would decimate her economy.?
Andorra has invested heavily in new infrastructure and facilities for the ski tourist in recent years, which would make a second successive poor season particularly hard to bear.
This year Andorra opened a new family friendly ski park in Arinsal to the delight of those taking a Crystal ski holiday, moving away further still from her old image of a cheap and cheerful ski holiday for 18-30 year olds to one that caters well for all.
The snow park includes a conveyor belt and a game zone, designed to give children confidence before they ski and use the chair lifts.
Well known ski villages in Andorra include Soldeu, Ordino as well as Arinsal.
Other new developments in Andorra for the 2007 ski season included a 540 space underground car park in La Massana close to the cable car, and an extension of the beginners area in Arinsal.
Commenting on the new facilities, the travel guide for Andorra claims that should the snow levels return to normal it will allow Andorra to compete with other ski areas in Europe for the 2008 ski holiday season.