International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism
The 2023 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism is a worldwide acknowledged reference for data about ski resorts tourism. It covers all the countries in the world offering equiped ski areas.
Coverage: There are currently 68 countries in the world that offer equipped outdoor ski areas covered with snow. Taking into account indoor facilities , mountaineering-only areas and other types of facilities such as dry slopes, the figure can be as high as 100 . Even if snow fields are much more numerous, about 2’000 ski resorts have been identified worldwide. Besides the major ski destinations in terms of skier visits, there are a number of other, smaller destinations, where skiing has been an industry for a long time, or is currently developing. The most obvious new destinations are Eastern Europe and China, but there are a number of other small players spread out across the globe: Algeria, Cyprus, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Lesotho, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and many more.
The 15th edition of the International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism presents the 2021/22 ski season around the world. After 2 difficult years impacted by covid-19 pandemic, ski business recovered pretty well. Globally, the 2021/22 attendance at ski resorts is in the average of last 20 years and some countries even clocked their best ever skier visits number.
Since beginning of 2000s, and before the covid-19 pandemic, yearly visitation to ski resorts has been varying mainly due to weather and snow conditions and has been fluctuating between 323 and 389 million skier visits worldwide. Alpine countries’ lockdown during winter 2020/21 generated the most dramatic shortfall in visitation over the period, with only 201 million skier visits recorded. Despite ski resort operation did not really return to full normal everywhere, the 2021/22 winter season clocks a very decent total of more than 370 million skier visits worldwide. Several countries, both in Northern and Southern Hemisphere, even did their best season ever.
This performance has been driven among others by:
- Favourable weather conditions in many places. Even if snowfall were sometimes limited, cold enough temperatures and sunny days provided for good skiing conditions;
- A renewed desire for outdoor activities and domestic destinations, which benefited to the ski areas (of which largest markets are domestic);
- An easing of the pandemic restrictions in many countries;
- The development of the ski industry in some Eastern European countries, scoring unprecedented skier visits number over the very recent years;
- China resuming its skier visits growth with the enthusiasm brought by Beijing 2022 Olympics, and despite still prevalent covid-19 restrictions;
- The resumption of lifts renewals after a year 2020 where works in progress were on hold for several weeks or months.
Globally, there is a return to normal level of attendance. However, considered at country level, there are winners and losers in the 2021/22 winter season. Visitation at ski resorts have still been more affected by the pandemic restrictions in some countries than in others, as was already the case over previous season. While in the United States, it was more than back to business as usual, while China resumed with its growth path, while some western countries have seen a revival in attendance, Austria missed the start of the season and Japan, Italy and Germany still suffered. France did pretty well, with attendance reaching 2% over the 5-year average of the last pre-covid-19 seasons.
Besides the updated figures on the ski business worldwide, 2023 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism also brings a helicopter view about the state of the industry and its challenges.
Despite the environment around the ski business continues to be more difficult that it was before the pandemic, winter 2021/22 can be considered as a season of hope for the industry. However, it is obvious that this season is also opening on more intense global challenges to the industry. On the one hand, the world has become more hostile. Be it the environment, the geostrategy, the politics, the media, the public opinion. All seem to unite against the ski industry. On the other hand, the transparency, common sense, objectivity and capacity to evaluate a situation without passion and bias seem to have become scarcer and scarcer, not to say to have disappeared. False information repeated frequently enough have become considered as truth and become believed at the government level as well. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as political agendas or simply a lack of accurate information and can lead to harmful policies or actions.
In this difficult context, the International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism wants to be faithful to its role of bringing facts and figures rather than ideology to feed a strategic reflection and a proper public debate.