This 14th edition of the global ski industry’s main ski trends and stats has just been published, and, unsurprisingly, reports that skier visit numbers worldwide in winter 2020-21 were the worst this century, beating the previous worst, the season before, curtailed as it was by the start of the pandemic.

The 14th edition of expert consultant Larent Vanat’s annual International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism 2022 was unveiled at the opening conference of Mountain Planet International Exhibition in Grenoble.

Vanat noted that although only six countries of the 68 ski countries included in the report were in full lockdown throughout winter 20-21, the global total dropped to 201.2 million skier visits, down by more than a third from the previous new low of 319.5 million skier visits worldwide in the curtailed winter 2019-20.

With ski areas closed and/or travel not permitted to countries like Austria, France and Italy, it gave China the chance to move up to second place in the global table, behind the US, with Japan and Switzerland taking third and fourth spots for market share.  China, Japan and the US all have a largely domestic skier market so were less impacted by border closures as their ski areas could stay open and Switzerland was the least restrictive of the major Alpine nations on travel and resort operations.

“The global impact of the pandemic and related restrictions over 2020/21 winter season attendance thus translated into a further decrease of 37% in skier visits around the world (on top of the former shortened 2019/20 season which itself was already down 18% on the last full pre-pandemic season),” said Mr Vanat, adding, “The highest impact was of course experienced in the Alpine countries, where the decline reached 78%. In other European destinations and Central Asia, the decline was limited to around 32%. With the recovery of China, the Asia Pacific region showed a 17% increase and the very good season in the United States brought America up 11%.”