‘Skiing is not dead’ (in Asia, anyway)

Laurent Vanat, international expert in ski business and ski resort management, has published the 11th edition of his ‘International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism’.

The headline takeaway is that global skier numbers are up for the second season in a row, although this is driven by growth in Asia.

The Global Snowsports Industry

  • There are 2000 ski resorts in 67 countries
  • The industry currently offers about 6 million beds in the mountains
  • Total number of global skiers estimated to be around 130 million
  • 20% of ski resorts account for 80% of all skier visits
  • The Alps are the biggest ski destination in the world with 44% of skier visits
  • America accounts for 21% of skier visits worldwide

5% growth in Skier Days

  • Winter 2017/18 ranked as the 4th best season of the new millennium
  • The number of skier days in 2017/18 was 400 million
  • This is +5% on winter of 2016/17, which was +4% compared to the 2015/16 season

The Importance of China

  • Growth has been driven by emerging markets in Asia, especially China, which has 13m skiers and 19m skier days
  • China is now the third largest country in number of skiers, after the United States and Germany.
  • 19 indoor ski centres opened in China between 2015 and 2018
  • The Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 may drive growth further, although this has not been the case in South Korea, which has seen numbers fall since PyeongChang 2018

The challenges in the West

  • In the West, strong competition, plus changing demographics and middle-class stagnation offers no prospect of substantial development
  • Scandinavia is the only Western market that has seen sustained growth over the last 10 years
  • The average price of a US ski day pass is continuing to skyrocket, doubling in 12 years to USD122

les saisies family skiing

Elsewhere around the globe

  • The Southern Hemisphere has seen a 10% increase in skier days YOY and a 25% increase in 10 years
  • The restrictions on travel for Russians has benefited countries such as Georgia

Focus on France

  • France is the second most popular destination in the world, behind the USA, in terms of skier days
  • France had an annual mountain turnover in 2018 of more than 1 billion euros
  • The French mountain tourism sector employs more than 5000 people
  • Compagnie des Alpes is the world’s largest ski resort operator, running 13 large resorts totalling more than 15m skier visits
  • Over 2m foreign skiers visit France each winter season, with the British representing 25%, followed by the Italians, Belgians, Germans and Russians

Les Arcs, Jan 2018

The 13 Most Visited French Ski Resorts

NB This is based on lift pass sales, so when one lift company covers more than one resort, the results have been aggregated
  1. La Plagne
  2. Les Arcs
  3. Val Thorens / Orelle
  4. Chamonix / Les Houches
  5. Courchevel / Meribel-Mottaret
  6. Les Menuires
  7. Tignes
  8. Val d’Isere
  9. Grand Massif (Flaine/Morillon/Samoens/Sixt)
  10. Alpe d’Huez
  11. Serre-Chevalier
  12. Deux-Alpes
  13. Avoriaz


The 30 Most Visited Ski Resorts in the World

(See note above for France)
biggest ski resorts in the world

The most visited ski resorts in the world

Austria, Andorra rely on overseas visitors

  • Andorra is the country that relies most on overseas visitors, followed by Austria.
  • China and Australia have the fewest overseas visitors

You can download and read the full report here: