With the most competitive ski season of taking to the slopes again and the next Winter Olympics just around the corner, the sport is enjoying a period of high profile in the media.
The ski is more than an exciting sport, it is also seen as a glamorous leisure industry that brings together healthy sporting activity, tourism and hospitality.
But, like any other sport that has traditionally been associated with a certain level of economic affluence – golf course – in which it faces a series of challenges and opportunities.
While the participation seems to have stabilized – or is the maintenance of a slight growth in traditional territories, such as the united kingdom, continental Europe and the united states, there is a growing interest among the citizens of countries like Russia and China.
Numerous factors are having an impact in the industry – including the aging of the participants, the consolidation of our business, technological and climate change, and even Brexit.
“In almost all parties, the industry faces the challenge of generating long-term growth”, says the researcher, Swiss Laurent Vanat, which each year publishes an International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism, in-depth description of the key factors in the ski industry.
“In many places, the market is more than mature and the baby-boomers represent the majority of the participants. This generation will progressively exit some of the mature markets without being adequately replaced by future generations with the same enthusiasm for skiing.”‘Bubble wealth’
In fact, in the uk, where the market according to the signature of a vacation SkiWeekends.com is a value of about Â£3 billion – more than two-thirds of those who ski between the ages of 43 to 65.
And those stats are supported by Charles Owen, director general, European Pubs Ltd, which operates bars and restaurants in French resorts frequented by skiers from the uk and other nations.
“Like golf, skiing is not a cheap sport, and there’s a bubble of wealth that is aging,” he says. “I see a situation in the future market of skiing, where if we are not careful we are not going to get enough young people into skiing and skiing on a regular basis.”
The lord Owen, says another challenge facing the continental territory of the ski market is the potential impact of Brexit.
With sterling, the fall in the value since the British referendum on the accession to the EU, it is becoming more expensive for uk skiers to take breaks in nations of the euro zone.
“In fact, more people in the industry are increasingly terrified,” he says. “There is no guarantee the British will continue to come in such numbers. In France they are worried if companies in the uk to stop the selling of the holiday, it will be necessary a restructuring of the market economy”.
He says that already there has been a demographic change in some of the “British” resorts, such as Val-d’isere or Meribel, with the emergence of more skiers to continental Europe. He also said more Russians have entered in the French ski market, particularly around the resort of Courchevel.
While admitting the challenges of the industry, Mr. Owen says of the ski technology has moved forward – with comfier boots and parabolic, curve skis – so it is potentially easier for the beginners in this sport.
Meanwhile, airlines have also make it easier to reach the tourist centers, and other disruptors such as AirBnB media-be skiers can put together their own packages without the need of staying in expensive hotels and villas.’Nice’
In the traditional Alpine skiing hotbed of central Europe, other changes that have been taking place to keep the industry relevant and appealing in the 21st Century.
In fact, the preliminary figures for the last winter season 2016-2017 of Statistics Austria show both the number of overnight stays (68.57 million, 0.1%) and the number of arrivals (18.82 million, 2.5%).
The dr. Robert Kaspar Schloss Seeburg University in Austria, says that the people are coming for shorter rest periods, and also looking to incorporate other activities into their mountain stay.
“People want to have other experiences in the mountains, for example, on the horse. There is also the development of the culinary experience on the mountain. People want to have a nice time and eat well,” he says.
“Efforts have been made to make the experience remain very strong and attractive. In the current climate, people also want to visit the countries regarded as safe, and also to be more physically active than they used to be.”
In addition, he says that trade has also been helped by the ski resorts of fusion to create large ski areas.
“That’s good, because a skier can navigate in a wider region in a day,” says Dr. Kaspar.
The key of the visitors to the Austrian Alps are the German, the second market is interestingly the Netherlands, and there are still uk visitors. “There are always opportunities for new visitors, and our Russian visitors are appearing now also,” he adds.
In such as enduring market says that there has been a couple of drawbacks: the tendency of people to rent skis instead of buying is to have an adverse effect on equipment manufacturers, and there is an ongoing danger of climate change affecting the snow availability at stations below 1000 meters.’Totally focused’
While mature destinations-skiing to come up with innovations to keep visitors numbers to come in a nation emerging hopes of becoming a winter sports powerhouse.
“The winter sports are really very important in China right now,” says Simon Chadwick, professor of sports business at Salford Business School.
“Sports such as skiing and the development of the industry of the winter sports, has definitely become a priority. There is a huge interest, related to the growth of the middle class and also the fact that Beijing hosts the Olympic Winter games in the next four years.
“The word in Beijing is that the money is being diverted from the summer Olympic sports to winter.”
And he says there is ongoing research at Tsinghua University to develop all aspects of winter sports industry.
“They are totally focused, above all, from the opening and operation of the ski resorts, to the marketing, merchandising and ski wear,” he says.
“In terms of markets, China is a great opportunity for the industry as a whole. The industry can only grow there, while in the united kingdom, the united states and Europe, there is a constant threat of minor interest.”
But the Lord Vanat, warns that unless more quick ways are found to teach young people how to ski, even in China, the industry faces an uncertain future.
“Otherwise, young people are bored and do something else. Unless there are methods to teach people to ski in hours, instead of a week, then underlying structural problems will always be there.”