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IS SKIING FINALLY ON THE RISE? - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Friday April 27, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The annual International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism is out and, for once, there's a bit - just a bit - of good news.



It's the 10th edition of the report compiled by the respected Swiss consultant Laurent Vanat.

It gives a detailed breakdown of the state of the snowsports market across the world, based on figures provided by resorts.

It provides information about the most popular ski areas, the regions that are doing well and those that are not and the countries that have the most skiers among their population.

And there's a section dedicated to each nation where it's possible to ski - there are 67 of them.

The 2018 edition paints a slightly more optimistic view of the industry than we've seen in the most recent reports.

Laurent VanatLaurent Vanat

















"It is a pleasure to notice that after three years of stagnation or decrease, the total figure of skier visits* worldwide is now showing a trend upwards again," Laurent Vanat says.

"In contrast to many pessimistic reports in the media, would this meant that the ski industry is now heading towards a safer horizon?"

Vanat says it's much too early to claim victory but the future promises to be exciting.

The reason for the upwards trend is the growing interest in developing markets, such as China, he says.

Unfortuntately, the western market continues to be flat.

Wanlong ski resort, ChinaWanlong ski resort, China














Vanat warns that, despite the rise in enthusiasm for skiing in places like China, where there were 57 new ski areas developed in 2017, the amount those developing markets actually ski is much less than in traditional ski countries.

The report says skiers are still generally "mature" and the number of newcomers to skiing and snowboarding is low.

"Worldwide competition in holiday and leisure activities and the improvment of retention rates and updated ski learning solutions remain challenges," Vanat says.

In North America, the trend for bringing individual resorts under the umbrella of major corporations with high financial expectations has, Vanat says, resulted in "ongoing rising prices, with a negative effect on the number of practising skiers".

There's also concern that some ski resorts and operators are choosing to conceal information about the number of visitors they receive.

SkiersHow many skiers?















"Skier visits are the major metric to follow up our industry. This is even more relevant in challenging times," Vanat says.

"However, more and more players in the market unfortunately decide to conceal this data to the public.

"They are reluctant to supply any consistent facts and figures beside their nice marketing stories or corporate reports only showing vague and global attendance data.

"So it seems that keeping this report up to date in the future will not be made easier."

So what else does the report say?

Facts and figures

  • 67 countries have equipped outdoor snow-covered ski areas
  • More than a third of the 2,000+ ski resorts are in the Alps
  • 80% of the world's major resorts (1m+ visitors) are in the Alps; 14% are in America
  • 43% of skier visits are to the Alps but alpine countries provide only 15% of the skiers
  • There are an estimated 130 million skiers worldwide
  • 14 indoor snow centres opened in China between 2015 and 2017
  • Only Austria and France have more than 10 resorts that attract 1m+ skier visits per season
  • Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria have the highest participation rates (35%+ of the population ski)
  • Only Andorra and Austria have more foreign than domestic skiers

And what about those most popular ski resorts?

We'll give you the full list in a separate report soon but this one is a new entry, coming at 18th.

Any guesses?

Ski resortNew entry in the list of world's most visited ski resorts




















*Skier visits:  one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night for the purpose of skiing, snowboarding, or other downhill sliding activity. Skier visits include full-day, half-day, night, complimentary, adult, child, season pass and any other type of ticket that gives a skier/snowboarder the use of an area's facilities. A skier skiing for a whole week at a resort accounts for 7 skier visits (for example).

Laurent Vanat sought crowdfunding to help finance this report.

Anyone who would like to support the 2019 edition financially can e-mail for more details.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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