Snow hosts at Big White hear lots of different accents this season as overseas visitors return in droves – Reuters

Europe’s lack of snow this winter is a boon for BC ski resorts, including Big White.

He sees a marked increase in the number of overseas visitors, particularly from the UK.

Vice President Michael J. Ballinghall received updates on travelers from snow hosts who offer free guided tours of the mountain.

“They say they hear accents they haven’t heard in a few years,” says Ballingall.

“The UK is big right now. People who were going to Europe canceled or came here. [We] had a few Aussies going [go to] St. Anton who came here instead.

Two Airbnb hosts in Kelowna told Castanet they are seeing an increase in bookings from overseas. One has a ski group from Ireland. The other host said she had visitors from the UK staying with her at the moment and Australians booked for mid-February.

Many ski resorts in Europe had to close temporarily this month due to a lack of snow and some of the highest January temperatures on record. Others had to resort to artificial snow.

“There is such a difference between Mother Nature’s snow and artificial snow. It is literally day and night. It’s like salt water and fresh water,” says Ballingall.

He says all resorts in British Columbia are open right now. Helicopter skiing and caterpillar skiing are also booming.

“There are a lot of skiers and snowboarders in this province right now, and they’re talking.

Ballingall points out that a Facebook post from Big White about ice encrusting the Falcon chair was shared on a David Attenborough fan page with 455,000 followers. He adds that you cannot buy this kind of advertising.

Not only are foreign visitors returning in droves, but American business is also strong this season. Ballingall gives some credit to direct flights via Seattle and good connections via Vancouver and Calgary.

Big White is already sold out for the Family Day long weekend in February, which is usually the busiest time of year at the resort.

Ballingall says the only thing needed now for ideal conditions is more sunshine. It was unusually gray, cloudy and foggy on the mountain. Typically this time of year, he says it’s cloudy in the valley but sunnier on the ski slopes.

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