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Carole Delga: “The Pyrenees have a card to play in quality tourism”

the essential
The president of the Compagnie des Pyrénées looks back on this “very positive” season but which “does not encourage us to remain static”, particularly around the issues of recruitment, quality and authenticity of the Pyrénées product.

Madam President, what is your assessment of this winter season?

It’s been a very positive year that gives new life to the heart. Attendance increased by 17% compared to 2019-20 which was already a good season, turnover by +15%. This made it possible to reconstitute the cash flow damaged by the closure the previous year, both for the resorts and for the mountain businesses. There are devices that have supported but never compensate for loss of turnover. It’s a smiling season, with the right snow cover at the right time. The white year also allowed us to continue to train station personnel on snow work, by adopting techniques used in Europe. It served us.

But I have the feeling that we cannot be satisfied with that…

It does not encourage you to remain static, in satisfaction. We will continue to innovate, especially in recruitment, which is the great uncertainty. We have hotels, restaurants that have been forced to reduce their opening hours due to lack of staff. The Compagnie des Pyrénées has recruited a person to publicize the existing arrangements in terms of mobility, housing, or childcare. We must remove these brakes and anticipate changes.

“We are going to move towards combined skiing with a clientele in demand for a wide range of activities and authenticity”

Does a year like this reassure funders, who have been rather hesitant up to now?

It will reinforce the investments which must all be considered in the light of authenticity, preserved space and the extra soul that characterize the Pyrenees, but also of the ecological transition. The massif has a card to play in quality four-season tourism. This season reassures the financiers but above all allows an amplification with the patient investor that is the Compagnie des Pyrénées. This is how we thought of this tool with Michel Pélieu, with the desire also to bring commercial strike power and anticipate changes. It is also a model that inspires the central massif which has launched a study.

In concrete terms, how does the presence of the Compagnie des Pyrénées in the major construction sites of La Mongie or Piau translate?

On the SEM du Grand Tourmalet, we are 25% shareholders and operator. We are investing more than €4 million to restructure the La Mongie snow front and remodel the entrance to the resort, in conjunction with the town hall. On Piau, discussions are underway for us to be shareholders of the SEM to carry these investments which will transform the station. It is first a question of structuring the stations legally (this is in progress in Cauterets) to have a balanced economic model thanks to the intervention of the region. The aim is to restore the quality of the accommodation and the layout. But it is not the same model at Grand Tourmalet as in the three small Catalan resorts of “Trio Pyrénées”. We are in the adaptability between very large works and tailor-made.

What about the expansion of the Company?

All the departments of the chain are now associated with it. We are progressing. With Altiservice, we have made efforts, with a desire for partnership. The ball is in their court.

What is your view of the economy of skiing in the longer term?

We need to preserve this authenticity and this diversity of choice in the Pyrenees, with activities for heavy skiers as well as for families and nature lovers, but with the same level of quality. We have worked hard to make people, in France and in Europe, want to come back to the Pyrenees, with a qualitative image. We are in a positive dynamic. Afterwards, we must not be in dangerous denial and think about our investments in the light of global warming. I am realistic but not defeatist. We are going to do a different snow practice, with skiing which will remain possible in the altitude resorts. There will be changes but the ski is not finished. We are going to move towards combined skiing with a clientele in demand for a wide range of activities. You have to adapt to this society where diversity is the rule. And the Pyrenees have a card to play.

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