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Strengthening Scotland’s snowsports industry

David Oxley, Director of Business and Sector Development at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, reflects on the ski season

It’s encouraging to hear that snowsports enthusiasts across all Scotland’s ski resorts made the most of an excellent season.

Figures show an estimated 240,000 skier days. Cairngorm saw numbers more than double on the previous season, with 59,003 people taking to the slopes.

Of course the successful season wasn’t without the typical challenges facing businesses that depend entirely on weather. At Cairngorm, the same heavy snowfall that made the hill so attractive also rendered access roads impassable at times, while high winds forced the resort to close completely for around 20 days.

In addressing some of these challenges, we worked with site operator CairnGorm Mountain Limited (CML) and The Highland Council. This enabled the purchase of quality road clearing equipment, including a snow blower, gritter, and snow chains, and a Mercedes Benz Unimog to which CML now has access. This means they can now react promptly to weather conditions, and improve access to the resort through the winter.

This year we have also been able to work with the operators of Cairngorm, the Lecht and Glencoe resorts to trial snow-making technology to improve reliability of conditions on the slopes. While the full report of the Snowfactory trial is still awaited, feedback suggests it could have the potential to boost Scotland’s snowsports industry considerably.

We have also appointed a specialist consultancy, SE Group, to provide us with a comprehensive review of uplift infrastructure at Cairngorm. The findings of this will help inform future investment in the resort that will seek to benefit visitors, communities and the local economy. We very much look forward to receiving the report later in the year.

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