Ways to better skiing: Begin with a bargain

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The Independent Travel

A better skiing trip would, obviously, be one on which the lift pass, equipment hire and tuition came free of charge. That is what is on offer this season in 24 resorts, including Whistler (Canada), Lech (Austria) and Tignes (France), for selected weeks in the second half of January, courtesy of the newly created Association of Snowsports Countries (ASC), which - in conjunction with tour operators and the resorts - has come up with the idea of "Freshers' Weeks".

A better skiing trip would, obviously, be one on which the lift pass, equipment hire and tuition came free of charge. That is what is on offer this season in 24 resorts, including Whistler (Canada), Lech (Austria) and Tignes (France), for selected weeks in the second half of January, courtesy of the newly created Association of Snowsports Countries (ASC), which - in conjunction with tour operators and the resorts - has come up with the idea of "Freshers' Weeks".

As the name implies, the initiative is aimed at attracting new skiers and boarders to the slopes. The ASC comprises the UK representatives of the national tourist boards of Andorra, Austria, Canada, France, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA. They are concerned that the number of Britons participating in winter sports has remained flat over the last few years. So they have organised Freshers' Weeks for 13-20 and 21-27 January to stimulate growth in the market. Most of the offers apply in that second week, with just a handful in the first.

All the major operators, except Inghams, are participating in the scheme, plus several independents: Erna Low, Flexiski, Ski Independence and the Swiss Travel Service. New skiers who book holidays with these operators will, if they quote the Freshers' Week offer, qualify for the free extras, which will save them £100 at the very least, in some resorts more than £200. The cost of this will be shared between the ASC, operators and resorts.

Any experienced skiers thinking of exploiting the offer, be warned: in most resorts, lift-passes will, at least initially, give access only to the nursery slopes.

For further information, see the www.snowsportscountries.com website, or contact travel agents or tour operators direct

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