China’s winter sports industry

Chinese skiing represents a massive opportunity for European players with growth ambitions. In 2015, after Beijing won hosting rights to the 2022 Winter Games, the Chinese government unveiled a winter sports development plan to have 650 skating rinks and at least 800 ski resorts by 2022, laying the foundation for a total industry value of 1 trillion yuan (EUR 125 billion) by 2025.

These are massive numbers for an industry that did not virtually exist 20 years ago.

Each year, indoor and outdoor ski resorts across the country continue to receive record numbers of visitors both in the freezing north-eastern provinces and also in the much warmer south – the CAGR2013-2017 is 16%, with some 17.5 million skier visits in 2017. “Resorts cannot be built fast enough and the demand for beds and instructors cannot be met,” explains Litao Zhang, the general manager of Fulong Four Seasons in Chongli, where a new resort recently opened at a cost of EUR 4.3 billion.

Did you know?

  • China is home to the world’s biggest indoor ski slope, which spans 800,000 square metres – around one quarter of all skier visits in China are to indoor ski areas.
  • China aims to have 1,000 ski resorts by 2030.
  • The number of people participating in ice and snow sports is expected to surpass 50 million by 2025, according to the 2016-25 development plan for ice and snow sports released by the central government.
  • Just 145 of the 704 ski resorts operating at the end of 2017 had aerial lifts – the rest are serviced by magic carpets or by just walking up.
  • China’s lack of snowfall is considered a major issue going forward by Switzerland Global Enterprise, who claim international suppliers of snow-machines could benefit.
  • Fourteen ski resorts in Switzerland have begun capitalising on the prediction that China will become the largest winter sports market worldwide by offering ski lessons in Chinese. Switzerland Tourism, the country’s national marketing organisation, offers Chinese tourists ski trip packages.
Alexandre Ebin
Alexandre Ebin
Partner
France