The 14th edition of this annual report was unveiled by creator Laurent Vanat earlier this year at the International Mountain Planet event in Grenoble.

The 2019/20 ski season was considered the worst of the millennium, with only 319.5 million skier-days recorded worldwide. However the limits in 2020/21, reduced this even further to 201.2 million skier-days.

Focusing on the anomalous Covid-affected winter season of 2020/21, the report throws up some unique results.

1. The rise of China

With many countries around the world closed and those open subject to travel controls, China finished second in the ranking for total skier days for the first time.

Although complete seasons in Europe in 2021/22 will inevitably redress this, the Beijing Winter Olympics and the continuing interest of skiing in China means that it is one of the few countries showing growth in numbers.

2. A strong recovery in the US

Less dependent on international travel than European markets, the USA came back strongly after the early end to the 2019/20 season.

It was up 11% overall, with over a million new or returning skiers in 2020/21.

3. The domestic market comes back in Switzerland

Unable to leave the country, Swiss skiers chose to stay at home in 2020/21, with the country recording the highest number of domestic skier days in the last seven years. Alone in Europe, the Swiss kept their lifts turning.

While resorts such as Zermatt and Verbier missed their overseas visitors, many smaller ski areas saw an increase in skier numbers.

4. Multi-area passes are selling better than ever

According to Vanat’s research, the share of skier visits generated by multi-area passes – such as the Ikon Pass, Epic Pass and Magic Pass – has increased from 38% to 51% over the last ten years.

5. Around 10% of the resorts get three-quarters of the visits

The report shows the dominance of large and very large ski areas across the globe.

While ‘Very Large Resorts’ represent only 1% of the total number, they attract 21% of skier days. ‘Large Resorts’ number 12% and bring in 53% of skier days.

It would be even more interesting to see how this correlates with altitude. We may well find that those larger skier areas are also higher, presenting a double threat to those smaller resorts for survival in the future.