There was a big rush into the conference room 307 of the China International Conference Center.
Everyone wanted to be a part of the Asia Pacific Snow Conference 2016 at ISPO BEIJING where a big report about the Chinese ski industry was published for the first time ever.
Author Bin Wu, Chief Strategy Officer of the ski resort division at Vanke, talked with ISPO.com about his report. Good news for the industry: China loves winter sports and the boom won’t stop any time soon.
More ski resorts, more active skiers and as a consequence thereof more turnover for ski manufacturers and rental stations. Wu, who among other things worked as distributor for Rossignol and Tecnica, presented an increase to 568 ski resorts in 2015. The year before there were 453.
Those numbers have to be treated with caution though, explains Wu. “Resort is not resort. A standard the way Europe or North-America have it can only be offered by three percent of the resorts.”
Looking at the heights of the hills it quickly becomes clear that China is still in its ski-infancy. “Only 18 of the 568 ski resorts offer an altitude difference of 300m”, says Wu.
Nothing like this can keep the Chinese from entering the slopes. 12,5 Million ski- and snow-enthusiasts visited the ski resorts in 2015. The trend still goes into the direction of renting ski. 122.700 pairs were rented by the Chinese, that is an increase of almost 25 percent (98.436) in comparison to the previous year. Sold were only about 20.000 pairs.
Steep and long downhill ski tours aren't important to the Chinese ski novices just like the transport. Ski lifts are still a rare sight in China. “There are 198 ski lifts in China, but they are only in 122 of the 568 ski resorts”, says Wu and explains why the number is so small: “A lot of the beginners don't need ski lifts, because the Magic Carpets are enough to transport them to the flat and short hills. At the moment there are 618 of these Magic Carpets in China.”
Should there be a steeper hill with no existing ski lift there is a quick fix to the problem: “A lot of people still use minivans or piste bashers to get to the top of the mountain. This isn't an unusual sight here”, says Wu. Even for the worst case scenario of no natural snow the Chinese are prepared.
WANDA Themed Entertainment, another former employer of Bin Wu, are planning to build four new indoor skiing facilities. The first is planned to be complete in Harbin, in the North of China, in 2017. China only does things in a big way: the project will be the biggest indoor skiing facility of the world with 80.000 square meters, a 520 m long piste and a height of 120 meters.
If you are interested in reading the White Book you either need basic knowledge of Mandarin or a bit of patience, because “the english translation will take a while because of the great demand in China”, explains Wu.