The established Alpine resorts of France, Switzerland and Austria are the most visited globally. We examine the future competition in the form of emerging destinations and resorts opening up to an international market.
From the Balkans to Japan, ski markets to watch in the coming decades.
The ski resorts of the Balkans are opening up to a global audience, having attracted western tour operators in recent years. Kopaonik in Serbia has a reputation for ski-in- ski-out properties, and attracts domestic, British and Russian skiers. A candidate for EU membership, foreigners may purchase freely in Serbia under a reciprocal agreement. In Bulgaria, Bansko offers access to Pirin National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, while Borovets has been established as a winter resort since 1896.
Las Lenas - Argentina
Las Lenas, Argentina, is an emerging luxury ski resort at high elevation in the Andes. Infrastructure in the resort is more limited than some of those established ski destinations in the northern hemisphere and as a consequence, it is Mendoza, the resort’s gateway city, that has attracted the lion’s share of (mainly domestic) wealthy investors. Mendoza also benefits from proximity to the vineyards of Chacras de Coria and Maipo.
As an emerging ski market, 80% of the ski business in China is for beginners. This is reflected in the profile of the 350 ski areas in China, the majority of which are ski fields for learning. Only a handful of resorts are approaching Western standards. The sport is still nascent (and considered ‘play’ by many Chinese), but a growing number of young, wealthy Chinese are taking it up. China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics should further broaden its appeal. Yabuli in the north of China is the country’s largest resort and the training venue for the national teams. relative to other Alpine markets.
Niseko - Japan
Niseko is one of Asia’s most important ski resorts. Located in Hokkaido, it is famous for plentiful powder snow and the iconic Mount Yotei. This valley resort is internationally recognised as a world-class ski destination, and as such draws visitors from across Pacific Asia and beyond. Niseko has an established luxury residential market, supported by those from China, Singapore, Malaysia and Korea, as well as domestic demand.
Pyeongchang - South Korea
Pyeongchang is the 2018 host for the Winter Olympics. Located in the Taebaek Mountains, it comprises several resorts, of which Yongpyong is the largest and a two hour drive from Seoul. Neighbouring Alpensia is a new resort and will be home to the athlete’s village and ski jumping stadium. Pyeongchang has long been the haunt of Korea’s high-society. International investors have been attracted by special visa investor programmes.