Interview

Alpine ambition

Issue 86 - spring 2020

According to Laurent Vanat, an expert in winter tourism, ski infrastructure in new markets often develops faster than the necessary ski culture.

Laurent Vanat
When it comes to the winter sports nation of the future, everyone speaks of China. Is the hype justified?

Vanat: China is actually well on the way to becoming a nation of skiers because the government is pushing this goal hard. Due to the 2022 Winter Olympics, there is a lot of enthusiasm and the skiing population is growing, especially in the age group of 25 to 35 year olds. The ski resorts are also developing and are quite modern, even though they are not comparable to the Alps due to the smaller height differences. The big challenge will be to motivate Chinese beginners to learn the sport properly and to practice it regularly. Skiing is still too often seen as a form of entertainment and not as a sport that requires repeated practice. In addition, ski areas crowded with beginners are not ideal for a positive learning experience and that the traditional teaching method in the context of one-week courses may also be less than ideal for Chinese tastes. For China's beginners, there is, for example, a growing range of ski simulators and dry slopes.

Will China's winter sports areas also attract foreign tourists?

Vanat: I do not believe that. China will remain primarily a home market. Neighbors Japan and South Korea have their own ski areas, and it is unrealistic for people to travel abroad to ski in China. In general, only a few people take a long-haul flight for a skiing holiday.

What other exotic ski markets are emerging?

Vanat: In terms of development potential, China remains the big exception. Other countries that currently want to develop skiing and are building state-of-the-art resorts are Turkey and, on a smaller scale, Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, they lack the base, namely enough local skiers. And foreign skiers are not yet coming in such large numbers to make the new resorts profitable. We already know this problem from Eastern Europe. We expected that the number of visitors to the modernized ski areas in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia will develop strongly, in fact they will grow slowly or even stagnate.

Vielen Dank für das Gespräch!

Photo: provided

To the main story

Novices on the slopes

Ski magic can not only be experienced in the classic ski regions of Europe and North America. In fact, every continent offers snow and lifts, albeit to a very different extent. The biggest hope market in the industry is the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics: China.