Winter sports in China eye white-hot growth

Skiing, snowboarding boom, sparking expansion of various related business segments

By WANG ZHUOQIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-19 09:28
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Employees work on a snowmaking machine at a company in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Nov 6, 2021. CHEN XIAODONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Wu Bin, founder and CEO of Beijing Snowpal Enterprise Management Co Ltd and author of the China Ski Industry White Book, said ski resort construction and expansion are presently experiencing robust momentum in China.

According to the 2022-23 edition of the book, 13 resorts — eight indoor venues and five outdoor facilities — were newly built and made operational during the previous fiscal year.

That took the total number of operational ski resorts in China to 697, including 166 that feature cable cars. During the period, domestic ski resorts recorded 19.83 million skier visits, which, while impressive, was actually down 8 percent from 2021-22, suggesting immense room for growth in the future.

The number of individuals engaging in skiing activities also experienced a 7 percent decline, with the per capita skiing frequency dropping from 1.79 to 1.77.

Hebei province near Beijing emerged as the leading province for skiers, while indoor ski resorts gained prominence as key players in the market, according to the China Ski Industry White Book.

China's dominance in the indoor ski industry is evident, with half of the world's top 10 indoor ski resorts located in the country, ranked by snow area, said Wu.

Additionally, the top three indoor ski resorts, ranked by snow area, are all in China. Indoor ski resorts accounted for 7.17 percent of all operational ski resorts, contributing significantly to the total skier visits.

According to Chengdu Sunac Snow Park, one of the leading indoor ski resorts in China, the domestic policy to boost tourism has triggered the surge in both travelers and revenue of the indoor venue of winter sports in Sichuan province in Southwest China, where snow is not frequent. Chengdu is now home to 14 ice rinks and six ski resorts.

"The number and scale of mostly small and medium-sized ski resorts in China are on the rise, but quality and matching facilities are still a work in progress," said Hu of Nanshan Ski Resort.

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