China is going downhill fast – if you believe the people touting its skiing revolution.
According to research cited by China Daily, 21 million visits were made to ski resorts in China last year, up 14% on 2017. The same study said that 39 new ski resorts opened last year, with 742 winter sports venues in operation.
One of the new entrants hoping to further boost interest is top European trainer Ecole du Ski Francais, which has unveiled an academy in Beijing to bring the best Alpine tuition to eager novices.
The school is partnering with Club Med, the tourism and resorts group owned by Chinese conglomerate Fosun.
Gino Andreetta, CEO of Club Med China, noted of the move: “We decided to support the country’s plan to have 300 million people on the snow [by 2022]. We know in China only 20% of people will come back after trying skiing the first time. We think safety is a top concern, as well as experience, and that’s why we created this academy, with a very strong partner – ESF, one of the largest and oldest ski schools.”
China Daily points out that the country’s increasingly affluent ‘millennial families’ are “eager to embrace new experiences” and that skiing is one of the sports being promoted by the government as part of the build-up to the hosting of the Winter Olympics in 2022 (for more on the investment going into resorts and facilities for the Olympics, see WiC390).
Club Med has two ski resorts in the northeast of China in Heilongjiang and Jilin.
But further afield Finland has been trying to market itself to Chinese skiers by launching the China-Finland Year of Winter Sports campaign last month. To get more tourists onto Finnish slopes two new direct flights to Helsinki will soon go into service from Shandong’s Jinan (on Tibetan Airlines) and from Shanghai (via Juneyao Airlines).