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Chinese interest in Europe's winter sport resorts gathering speed

By WANG MINGJIE in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-03-11 09:33

Chinese skiers take selfie photos at the Pitztal Glacier ski resort, Austria in September. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Celebrity effect

Skiing and snowboarding have long captivated Chinese billionaires and their circles. Notable winter sport enthusiasts include Wang Shi, the founder and chairman of China Vanke, Lei Jun, founder of the consumer electronics company Xiaomi, and Yu Minhong, founder of New Oriental Education.

Chadwick said role models, icons, and heroes are all important in driving the engagement of consumers with a sport and he believes the preponderance of Chinese celebrities who ski or snowboard is a significant development.

As the country aims to become a more dominant sporting force in the Winter Olympics and at other international competitions, Chinese sports superstars such as Eileen Gu and Su Yiming represent a shift in China's winter sports landscape.

Mark Thomas, managing director of S2M Consulting, a China-focused sports event company, said: "Their achievements not only raise the profile of winter sports in China, but also inspire younger athletes, driving growth in participation and consumption. Additionally, their success may lead to increased sponsorship, media coverage, and grassroots interest in winter sports, benefiting both athletes and the industry as a whole."

He sees European ski destinations tapping into Chinese enthusiasm, through tailored marketing, improved transportation, and partnerships with Chinese tourism organizations, positioning themselves as premier destinations for Chinese travelers seeking winter experiences.

Laurent Vanat, Switzerland-based author of the annual International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism, said: "The impact of Chinese winter sports on the global ski industry has been substantial, as China is a huge market, with a big potential."

He maintains that overseas ski travel is a niche market and is likely to remain so.

"But of course, given the size of China's population, a niche in China can be of substantial importance."

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