A French sky resort entered into administration on Monday with debt worth nearly £1.5m, blaming a lack of snowfall caused by global warming.
Le Mont-Dore in the central Auvergne region was forced to close the majority of its 33 pistes during one of the warmest winters on record in France. This saw revenue drop to £545,000 – down from the £3m that the resort would usually earn around this time of year
The council-run company that manages the resort’s slopes and ski lifts has subsequently gone into receivership.
“Climate conditions have changed. The last time we had so little snow during the February school break was 30 years ago,” said Patrick Deat, the resort’s chairman.
The company will continue to operate and the jobs of its 21 employees will be safeguarded for up to 18 months, but finding a replacement for the lost revenues from the lucrative ski season will not be easy, Mr Deat added.
Since the end of the 19th century, the Alps, Europe’s highest mountain range, has seen an average temperature rise of 2C, according to scientific journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research.
The effect of climate warming has been stronger on winter temperatures, making snow increasingly rare at lower-altitude ski resorts below 1,500 metres.
Mont-Dore’s slopes run from 1,850 metres to 1,200 metres.
Research from the University of Grenoble has found that almost half of the 169 ski resorts that have closed since 1951 – the first year to record a closure – went out of business due to lack of snow.
Some resorts have turned to artificial snow, produced by forcing water and pressurised air through a canon to supplement natural snow.
“A number of resorts are in a rather difficult situation,” Joel Retailleau, managing director of ANMSM, the umbrella body for the mayors of French ski resorts, said.
“Skiing will remain an important activity and remains essential to France’s tourism policy, but we will need to develop a number of new offers to respond to tourists’ demand and climate evolution.”
France is among the world’s top skiing destinations, along with Austria and the United States, with about 10 million annual visitors generating 10 billion euros in revenue and creating some 120,000 jobs.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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