Chinese ski industry: A fresh market finds its feet

In 2010 there were more than 5 million skiers in China, up from 10,000 in 1996 and 200,000 in 2000. The China Ski Association predicts this figure will rise to 20 million skiers by 2015, with an industry worth US$629 million ($740 million). Ask how many ski resorts there are and you’ll encounter varied answers. A 2012 China ski study report commissioned by the Canadian Tourism Commission puts the resort figure at 70 with more than 200 ski facilities. « The China market is not an advanced-skier market, they are mainly beginners and so are the ski fields, » Grant says. « While some resorts are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on creating five-star hotels and facilities, most of the mountain resorts close to Beijing are mainly man-made snow, and shorter, beginner-style runs. But while the quality of the lift systems and spa resorts are top notch, the quality of service, including ski instruction and ski patrol, is sub-par. Some resorts say that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of first-timers won’t revisit. »

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