Last week Source met with the Morzine Office de Tourisme and in particular, with Bruno Robinet, the Charge de Projects. Bruno is responsible for many important things at the tourist office, especially those surrounding the summer season.
Many in Morzine will tell you of their dissatisfaction with the resort’s summer planning and development initiatives, and on the whole, Morzine Source Magazine is in agreement. While resorts such as Verbier and Meribel spend vast fortunes on mountain bike trail development (mostly financed by their vast winter coffers), Morzine’s summer trade seems to be shrinking at an alarming rate.
Or is it?
The numbers on the following table don’t usually make their way into the public domain. We all remember Summer 2014 as a literal wash-out, but Portes du Soleil MTB lift pass purchases actually increased year on year for nine of the previous 13 years. In fact, between summer 2009 and summer 2010 there was a huge 46% increase in the number of passes sold throughout the season. Why was that? And is the summer season really shrinking?
*PDS Passes Sold = Portes du Soleil MTB passes sold across the entire lift network during the season
** PDS MTB Passages = The number of times MTB passes were used on lifts across the network during the season
The unfortunate problem is that the local powers that be, when deciding how and when to spend resort finances, consider figures such as these – they are some of the only visitor stats collected regarding mountain biking in Morzine, and they appear to show that there’s very little cause for concern. The other problem is that Morzine’s lift infrastructure is operated by a private company, who make investment decisions from a business perspective, rather than a ‘resort first’ one. In other resorts across the Alps (including those on either side of our valley), lift networks are owned by the commune, and arguably decisions are made with a different set of objectives.
But there’s another problem with these figures and another huge reason why they shouldn’t be relied upon. The overall European cycling market – be it road or mountain – is growing year on year. More people are riding bikes at home and on holiday. Despite showing positive growth in 9 of the last 14 summer seasons, the resort is actually loosing market share in relation to actual European industry growth. More people are mountain biking, and they’re going elsewhere.
And then there’s the fact that these figures don’t tell us anything about mountain biking in Morzine. They’re stats that cover the entire Portes du Soleil – that’s 13 different resorts. There’s a real chance that mountain bikers are actually staying in resorts such as Chatel, which has invested in bringing in high profile MTB events each summer, and Morzine’s popularity is declining further.
That’s enough of the doom and gloom, because seriously, change is afoot.
June sees the publication of a significant report, commissioned by the Mairie de Morzine-Avoriaz, on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of mountain biking in Morzine. It’s a full, detailed analysis, available to everyone, outlining the resorts’ summer development strategy. You’ll be able to read it for yourself (in French and English) in the Mairie’s own magazine. We don’t know what it includes but as soon as it’s available, we’ll bring you all the details.
Also, remember that ‘MTB Survey’ that did the rounds last summer season? The one that we all encouraged visitors and locals to complete? We’re finally in possession of the results, and once we’ve translated them, we’ll bring you the full report.
Finally, there is commitment from the Morzine Office de Tourisme and from Bruno Robinet in particular, to plan a MTB specific event in Morzine in August this year. Similar to the Super Morzine Downhill Cup event last summer, an event committee is bring prepared and there’ll be a big apres velo party in the centre of Morzine too. Watch this space for further details.