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SKIING: NOT DEAD YET - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Monday April 15, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

That's the verdict of the 2019 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism. Which countries are doing well & which are not?

The 11th annual edition of the report has just been published.

It is a detailed study of the state of the snowsports market across the world and is compiled by the respected Swiss consultant, Laurent Vanat.

It is based on figures supplied by resorts for the winter season 2017-18.

Vanat's previous report offered some slight optimism about the future, as we reported last year:

His 2019 report is more upbeat yet.

"Skiing is not dead!" Vanat concludes.

"For the second year in a row, the winter season 2017/18 shows again a global trend upwards.

"Even if, as usually, some countries or regions performed better than others, this gives a positive sign after 3 years of decline."

SkiingSkiing is still alive
















The number of skier visits* worldwide was up 5%, which was itself 4% higher than the previous season.

"Although the worldwide ski industry faces challenges and the numbers of skiers in western countries tend to be more or less stagnant when not decreasing, the global performance remains at a high level," Vanat says.

"The 2017/18 winter globally ranks as the 4th best ski season of the new millennium."

So, what about the detail?

We've picked out some of the highlights.

Scandinavia on the up....

One of the most interesting aspects of the report, in our opinion, is the continued increase in the number of skiers visiting Scandinavian ski areas - mainly in Norway and Sweden.

It is the only region in Europe which has more skiers and snowboarders visiting than 10 years ago.

Trysil, NorwayTrysil, Norway
















The report suggests that the trend is likely to continue.

Climate change is cited as one reason.

"Ski tourism may shift to the colder northern Scandinavian countries," it says.

Many ski areas in Norway and Sweden have long winter seasons and good quality snow is pretty much guaranteed because of their northerly location.

Hafjell, Norway Hafjell, Norway














At PlanetSKI we have found that they are also generally far less busy than the big-name resorts in the Alps, even at peak times - though it's possible this could change if the rise in skier visits continues.

In Norway, the number of skiers has been growing for four seasons in a row.

In 2017/18, the country recorded 8 million skier visits - its highest ever.

Vanat says the popularity of Scandinavian resorts could be boosted with the opening of a new airport.

The Scandinavian Mountains Airport is due to open in December this year.

It's in Sweden close to the border with Norway and will speed up the transfer time to some of the larger resorts in both countries.

The Alps....

Austria ranks first on the winter 2017/18 skier visits podium for the first time in recent history.

And two thirds of skiers and snowboarders in Austria come from outside the country.

Austria stats from the 2019 Vanat reportAustria stats













The other major alpine countries have also seen their numbers rise.

France is up 5.6% on the previous year but is still 0.4% below the five-year average.

Switzerland is up 10.3% over the previous year and 2.1% above the five-year average.

Italy does not provide full annual attendance statistics but Vanat says that, based on estimates, numbers are also up there.

Madonna di Campiglio, ItalyMadonna di Campiglio, Italy
















Southern Hemisphere doing well....

Although the number of skiers is relatively small, the southern hemisphere had its best season ever.

Skier visits in 2018 were up 10% over the previous year and 25% above the situation 10 years ago.

Mount Buller, AustraliaMount Buller, Australia, August 2018




















"The Australian ski industry had an excellent 2018 season, with 2.4 million skier visits recorded," the report says.

"This was a new record, exceeding the previous best of 2.3 million skier visits reached in 2012.

"Australia was blessed with good quality natural snowfalls throughout the season, making for good skiing conditions from start to finish."

And New Zealand clocked a record 1.9 million skier visits in 2018, 16% above the previous season.

South Korea fails to capitalise on Winter Olympics...

Staging the Games in Pyeongchang "completely failed" to increase the popularity of skiing in South Korea, the report concludes.

Pyeongchang Winter OlympicsPyeongchang 2018
















There has been no positive effect on the ski industry in South Korea with attendance at resorts in the country continuing to decline.

Visits in 2017/2018 - the winter during which the Winter Olympics and Paralympics were held - fell by 10% and were 20% below the five-year average.

China continues to grow....

China is now ranked third in the world for the number of its own nationals who ski, behind the USA and Germany.

There are now said to be around 13 million Chinese skiers.

Of course, in terms of the proportion of the Chinese population - estimated at more than 1.4 billion - the statistic is not particularly impressive.

However, the growth of the ski industry in China ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is continuing.

New ski areas and indoor snow centres are opening every year.

Wanlong, ChinaWanlong, China















In 2018, 39 new ski areas opened in China, bringing the total to 742.

Most are still poorly equipped and for beginners only.

Vanat says only 25 approach western standards, but often without any accommodation. He says a small number can be considered genuine ski resorts.

More headlines...

  • Russian skiers - the number of Russians visiting Europe to ski has fallen over several seasons
  • Japan - skier visits are less than half of what they were in the 1980s. The country has seen only a slight recovery in numbers since its worst season in 50 years in 2015-16.
  • USA - Lift ticket window prices in the USA (bought on the day, not purchased in advance) continue to rise. The average cost of a daily pass has doubled in 12 years to $122
Aspen, ColoradoAspen, Colorado, USA

*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).

The International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism is made possible with the help of crowdfunding.

If you wish to support the publication of the 2020 edition, email to indicate your contribution or to obtain more details or look at the download page of the report on

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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