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Melting Ski Tourists Tempted Back For 2008 Season

By: Roger Munns

Previous investment in infrastructure and improved ski facilities saw the number of tourists visiting Andorra in recent years rise sharply.

But 2007 was the worst year for nearly twenty years, taking Andorra back to the eighties when it was known as a 'poor man's ski holiday destinantion'.

New high quality hotels have been built to meet the demand, notably in the ski resort of Soldeu, but here occupancy was very disappointing for the 2007 ski seaspn despite low price offers.

With official statistics not yet available, local estimates suggest the overall tourist market could have fallen by as much as 40 per cent compared to 2006.

The decline in tourists for the 2007 ski season has been felt in Andorra beyond the travel industry.

Petrol stations, supermarkets and department stores all felt the pinch as shoppers took their Euros elsewhere, and some Andorra ski resorts laid off staff half way through their contracts.

Directly related to holiday visitors, the number of properties being sold has also been hit, with suggestions that some estate agencies, particularly those who specialise in ski properties, facing possible closure.

Buying a property in Andorra is often seen as a route to residency, which entitles people to live in Andorra and benefit from her tax haven status.

To obtain residency in Andorra, applications need to be submitted in Catalan. A notarised copy of the applicants passport, birth certificate and a certificate of good conduct from the home country are submitted at the same time. Residency normally takes between three and six months to be approved.

Once residency is granted, residents are supposed to spend six months a year in Andorra, but this isn't policed.

One of the drawbacks for those looking to become a resident in a tax haven when considering Andorra has been that the country has no airport of its own, and is unlikely to have in the future given that it is located in the Pyrenees. The nearest airports are Barcelona and Toulouse.

Recent improvements in the road from Barcelona to Andorra though have cut the travelling time by some thirty minutes to two hours fifteen minutes.

But unless 2008 has some improvement in snow levels, both the travel and property trade, which are linked by the number of visitors, could be struggling in the not too distant future.

The Andorra ski holiday trade are hoping that they won't have to cut prices early on in the ski season to attract visitors.

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