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Chinese ski market

Elevating the ice and snow experience: the Chinese ski market in transformation

In the aftermath of the Beijing Winter Olympics coinciding with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the growth of the Chinese ski market experienced a temporary deceleration. However, the ski industry is now on an upward trajectory as brands strategically respond to the surging consumer demand, supported by a favorable government stance. New ski resorts have been consistently added, propelling China to a leading position in the indoor skiing sector, buoyed by robust governmental support. This development within the ski industry, spanning advancements in snow skiing equipment and the establishment of resorts, is contributing to a markedly enhanced skiing experience in China. Furthermore, the appeal of the ski market is diversifying, attracting a broader range of audiences, including those seeking cost-effective skiing options, women, and beginners.

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Revitalizing ice and snow tourism: China’s post-Olympic confidence

The first snow season after the Beijing Winter Olympics faced unexpected challenges due to the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the enthusiasm to enjoy winter sports, the pandemic disrupted the post-Olympic boost in December 2022 and January 2023. Ski resorts operated at full capacity, but many people either grappled with virus infections or stayed indoors.

However, from 2022 to 2023, China added 13 new resorts – 8 indoor and 5 outdoor ski facilities. The total count of operational ski resorts was 697, with 166 ski resorts featuring aerial ropeways as of April 30, 2023.

Post the Winter Olympics period, there is renewed confidence in the revitalization of ice and snow tourism and the broader ice and snow economy. Central government policies and support demonstrate the commitment to sustainable development in ice and snow tourism and sports.

China takes global lead in explosive growth of indoor ski resorts

The country’s dominance in both quantity and size positions it as the world’s largest indoor ski powerhouse. The number of operational indoor ski resorts has consistently risen since 2013, growing from 5 in 2013 to 50 in 2022.

Chinese ski market
Data source: 2022-2023 China Ski Report, designed by Daxue Consulting, Number of China’s indoor ski resorts in operation

Moreover, China boasts half of the world’s top ten indoor ski resorts based on snow area. As of January 2024, over ten domestic indoor ski resort projects are under construction, with at least four of them expected to enter the global top ten.

Chinese ski market
Source: 2022-2023 China Ski Industry Whitebook, designed by Daxue Consulting, Top ten indoor ski resorts in the world as of 2023

National and regional support for the Chinese ski market

China’s ski industry is thriving, propelled by strong government support with the goal of reaching 50 million participants by 2025. Regional plans, like Sichuan’s ambition for ice and snow sports, and the national policy “Planning and Construction of World-Class Ice and Snow Tourism Resorts in the Northeast Region” from 2023, drive comprehensive development in infrastructure, transportation, and international integration. Several regions, such as Sichuan, Hainan, and Jilin, have introduced coupons to boost cultural tourism and sports exhibitions.

Elevating the ski experience with aerial ropeways and magic carpets

In ski resorts, detachable ropeways are driving substantial growth, notably in new large-scale resorts and renovations of mid-sized ones. As of April 2023, China boasts 323 operational aerial ropeways in 166 resorts across 21 provinces. Hebei, Jilin, and Heilongjiang lead with 61, 49, and 41 ropeways, respectively. Xinjiang has gained attention with 11 new ski aerial ropeways, bringing its total to 38 and securing the fourth position nationally.

Concerning imported detachable aerial ropeways, there has been a steady growth until 2022, with no additions between 2022 and 2023. The 2022 to 2023 snow season witnessed a surge in domestically manufactured detachable aerial ropeways, surpassing imported ones. All 18 newly added detachable ropeways in domestic ski resorts were made in China.

Chinese ski market
Source: 2022-2023 China Ski Industry Whitebook, designed by Daxue Consulting, Imported and domestically manufactured detachable aerial ropeways in China

Magic carpets, conveyor belts designed to transport individuals to the top of the slope, are rapidly gaining popularity. This surge in interest is attributed to their efficiency in saving time and energy, ultimately enhancing the overall skiing experience for enthusiasts.

Chinese ski market
Source:, Magic carpets in Guangzhou Huadu resort

Thriving demand, surging supply: China’s skiing industry ascends

The skiing industry in China is on the rise, evident in the construction and upgrading of numerous ski resorts. This expansion spans the entire industry, involving equipment manufacturers (upstream), resort operators (midstream), and skiing enthusiasts (downstream). The upward trajectory can be attributed to robust government support, evolving customer preferences, and a firm commitment to safety and eco-friendly practices.

The crucial role of quality and efficiency in the upstream segment of Chinese ski market

Looking at the equipment side (upstream), B2B companies have the potential to enhance the comfort of Chinese consumers’ skiing experiences by concentrating on optimizing the quality and efficiency of snowmaking machines skiing gears.

To optimize snow quality and operational efficiency, ski resorts can integrate advanced automated snowmaking machines alongside skilled professionals. Traditional machines, often constrained in range and snow quality, require manual adjustments, contributing to escalating costs in China’s growing ice and snow industry. Embracing automated technology effectively addresses these challenges, providing ski resort operators with consistent snow coverage and cost-effectiveness.

Moreover, Ermao (二毛), in an interview with XGame, highlighted the insufficient skill level of snow grooming professionals in China, suggesting a need for systematic training abroad. Additionally, he advised resorts on importing durable and more efficient equipment, as it ensures a higher post-service reliability level. In conclusion, these proactive measures not only enhance the overall skiing experience for consumers but also contribute to the sustainable growth of the skiing industry in China.

Addressing the scarcity of skiing coaches and the holistic development of ski resorts in the midstream segment

In the midstream in the skiing industry, encompassing skiing venues, cable cars, equipment rentals, and coaching, there’s a notable shortage of skilled coaches in early-stage training programs. At ISPO Beijing 2024, Vice Chairman of the Beijing Skiing Association, Benny Wu, highlighted this challenge. He emphasized that that there will be a need for up to 30,000 professionals by 2025.

As ski resorts continue to evolve, they are increasingly offering comprehensive services designed to cater to individuals with diverse skills and backgrounds. A notable example is Wanlong Ski Resort, a highly regarded establishment that goes beyond traditional skiing experiences. The resort has thoughtfully curated ski slopes tailored to various skill levels and has expanded its offerings to include activities beyond skiing. Through strategic partnerships with brands like Salomon, Wanlong ensures top-notch rental services. During warmer months, the resort diversifies its offerings with activities such as hiking, camping, and even real-life counterstrike.

To further enhance its offerings, Wanlong Ski Resort has extended its reach by opening nearby hotels and bars. This strategic move not only contributes to the completeness of the resort’s services but also plays a crucial role in fostering the overall growth of the surrounding area. Wanlong serves as a prime example of how ski resorts, by adapting and expanding their services, can create a well-rounded and appealing experience for a diverse range of visitors.

Chinese ski market
Source: SnowOnline, Wanlong Ski Resort provides comprehensive services

Downstream: the soaring wave of ice and snow tourism fueled by consumers from first-tier and new first-tier cities

According to the China Tourism Academy’s Report on China’s Ice and Snow Tourism Development in 2023, there is a shift in Chinese consumer preferences towards prioritizing ice and snow tourism and sports for longer vacations. This shift is boosting industries like sports equipment, catering, accommodations, and transportation. As a result, indoor ski resorts in southern regions like Guangdong, Sichuan or Hainan are expected to see increased popularity and sales growth. 

The primary consumer base hails from first-tier and new first-tier cities, with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shandong, Hebei, Sichuan, Liaoning, and Hubei emerging as the top ten provinces contributing to the surge in ice and snow tourism in 2022. Most of the cities are still from the Northern part of China.

The rise of female participation and varied skiing expertise

While males dominate skiing participation, there is a gradual increase in female involvement, signifying a positive shift in the gender dynamics of skiing enthusiasts. Advancements in equipment and training methods have played a pivotal role in enhancing the overall experience and accessibility of the sport. Modern gear is designed to be more user-friendly and tailored to different skill levels, making skiing more approachable for women.

From China’s affluent to budget-conscious skiing scene

In China’s dynamic skiing landscape, a distinct division emerges within the demographic of individuals aged 25 to 34. A notable group boasts relatively high incomes, with over 50% earning a monthly income exceeding RMB 10,000. Brands are quickly to recognize the affluence within this segment of Chinese skiers, prompting luxury brands like Louis Vuitton to promote extravagant ski products in China.

There is also a growing group of young consumers who are skiing despite the high cost. They are adopting cost-saving strategies such as finding ski buddies and opting for second-hand equipment.

The Chinese ski market explained

  • The Chinese ski market rebounds post-Olympics and pandemic disruptions, with increasing consumer demand.
  • China leads the global indoor skiing sector, boasting top-tier resorts.
  • Robust government backing accelerates the expansion of the Chinese ski industry.
  • Aerial ropeways and magic carpets enhance the skiing experience, driving industry growth.
  • The ski market diversifies, attracting cost-conscious, female, and beginner enthusiasts, creating opportunities for winter brands.