Industry News

Report on Global Ski & Snowboard Participation Released

April 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

Today, Laurent Vanat, an independent consultant based in Europe released the 2016 International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism that provides an overview of key industry metrics for snow sports resorts.  This report is available for free, to anyone interested at

Highlights include:

  • – 125M skiers and Snowboarders
  • – 66 Countries with Lift-Served Ski/Snowboard Areas
  • – Flat growth in the number of resort visits over the past decade
  • – Growing number of skiers and snowboarders due to emerging markets like China
  • – The average number of days spent at snow sports resorts is decreasing

There are 66 countries with 2,131 lift-served resort areas globally.  Resorts in the Alps (Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France) are home to 35% of those resorts, account for 38% of the global lift capacity, and 84% of resorts that typically have 1 million or more visits per season.  La Plagne, a resort in the French Alps, had the highest number of visits at nearly 2.5M.  Only 3 North American resorts made it into the top 20 including Whistler-Blackcomb (#6), Vail (#9) and Breckenridge (#11).  Overall, North America has 21% of the total market share of resort visits, the Alps account for 43%, and the Asia and Pacific region has 15% of the market share.


Photo Credit: Fischer Sports 

Worldwide, there are about 125M skiers and snowboarders according to the report.  North America is home to about 31M skiers and snowboarders, a figure that jibes well with the SIA Participant study.  Although the Alps host the highest number of resort visits, only 15% of skiers and snowboarders call Italy, Germany, Switzerland or France home. 

In addition to the global metrics on participants and participation, Vanat’s analysis on the evolution of the snow sports market.  He concludes that the snow sports market needs to update teaching methods to increase retention of beginners; especially in emerging markets like China.


Photo Credit: Tripp Fay

“With the increasing development of short stays at ski resorts (the traditional ski week is reduced to a few days, the daily trip to the slopes is reduced to an evening) it is becoming necessary to adapt the teaching method. It has been widely acknowledged by the industry that the first experience for beginners is very often unpleasant and that most of them will not return. Without proper teaching methods that will allow novice skiers to have fun on their first visit after 30 minutes on skis, the conversion of beginners to loyal skiers will become more and more difficult. Not only does the market desperately need teaching methods adapted to customers who are connected, zap from one activity to another , and lack a sports culture, it is also needs an army of ski instructors to meet with the growth perspectives in China.”

This report is the most comprehensive report on Global snow sports participation and participants produced anywhere.  Laurent Vanat has published this report for the past eight seasons and the content is more comprehensive each year.  This year, crowd funding ensured that the report would be available for free to anyone interested in downloading it.  SIA Research recommends this report to anyone interested in a global view of the snow sports market.

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