Snow Problems For Andorra Ski Holidays

By: Roger Munns

The small independendent country of Andorra has impressively built her reputation over the last twenty years as a country with quality ski resorts, and has been successful to the extent that a country with a population of 70,000 has attracted ten million tourists a year.

Andorra has spent millions of Euros upgrading her ski facilities, and millions more improving her infrastructure to cope with the extra tourists, with new luxury hotels opening in recent years in ski resorts such as Soldeu.

But the one thing that ski resort needs, Andorra failed to provide at the peak of the season, mid December to mid March. Snow!

In response the Andorra tourist authorities turned to snow cannons providing a good cover of snow, and in the process nearly emptied the lakes, but for many skiers the artificial snow isn't the same as the naturally falling snow.

The result was conflicting claims from the authorities who claimed a ten to fifteen per cent drop in ski holiday tourists, while some local businesses were saying it was closer to forty per cent. Whichever figure it is is bad news for a country that has invested heavily in the ski holiday market, and who has an economy relying on good tourist numbers.

The tourists who did arrive in Andorra were those brave enough to book a ski holiday in advance of the ski season starting, but based on the last twenty years they had no reason to doubt that Andorra's ski resorts would have good levels of snow.

For those who didn't mind skiing on artificial snow the runs were bliss, with few people on the slopes compared to the normal number during what is normally peak season.

As well as being a top European ski destination, Andorra is a tax haven with no income tax.

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. According to a local travel guide 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 ine 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.

'Given the tax advantages Andorra has', note one Andorra travel guide, 'A two and a quarter hour trip to the nearest international airport could be viewed as a small price to pay for those who will be saving substantial amounts of money in tax. Especially when you consider that their properties could be rising in value quite significantly in the years to come, and for those who like skiing it's a holiday and tax paradise in one.'

Andorra awaits the new ski season with baited breath.

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