Skiing is driven by increased personal wealth and is gaining popularity as a family activity in China. An Olympics-inspired development and building boom has started. "By 2022 more than 1000 ski resorts in China and 40 million skier visits are expected", says Susi Wang, Trade Officer at the Swiss Business Hub China in Beijing.
Significant increase in ski resorts in China
In February 2016, the first study of China ski industry has been released on the Asia Pacific Snow Conference during ISPO/ALPITEC exhibition in Beijing. According to this study, China built 108 ski resorts in 2015, the number of ski resorts reaching 568 in total, an increase of 23,48% compared to the previous year.
The study also shows, that 12,5 million Chinese have visited a ski resort in 2014/15 season, an increase of 21,36%, comparing to 10,3 million skier visits in 2013/2014 season. Beijing with 23 ski resorts comes first with 1,7 million skier visits in 2014/2015 season, followed by Northeast China's provinces Heilongjiang and Jilin.
Ski industry: long-term investment for Chinese real estate developers
The ski industry is seen as a capital intensive and long-term investment but the profit potentials over long periods tend to be quite large as the cost of creating facilities and the limited geographic and climatic factors limit the alternatives.
Leading Chinese real estate developers have shifted their focus to the newly built ski resorts. Vanke Group has invested 40 billion RMB to upgrade the Songhuahu ski resort in Jilin Province. In July 2016, Vanke Group has announced a strategic cooperation between Songhuahu ski resort and Beidahu ski resort to offer visitors an outstanding skiing experience. For this purpose, a comprehensive upgrade of existing facilities is planned. Another real estate giant, Dalian Wanda Group with total investment of 23 billion RMB, has built Changbaishan international resort as a modern destination place for skiing. Thaiwoo ski Resort located in Chongli is planned to see an investment of over 20 billion RMB. In its 1st construction phase, 28 ski slopes, 4 lifts and 11 magic carpets have been built. By the completion of all the constructions, Thaiwoo targets to have 200 ski slopes over 138km length, 45 lifts and 21 magic carpets. Furthermore foreign investment is already present in the area. Genting Secret Garden (GSG) is a 6,5 billion RMB investment project of Malaysia’s Genting Group in Chongli/Zhangjiakou. It currently operates 30 ski slopes. Over the next few years the ski area is going to develop further. By 2021 GSG will employ approx. 5000 employees. By 2022 GSG will have 14 lifts, around 90 ski slopes and over 70km of ski Trails.
Opportunities for Swiss SMEs in the context of the upcoming Winter Olympics 2022
In the context of the upcoming Winter Olympics 2022, Swiss know-how in the mountain and winter technologies sector will certainly benefit from the huge growth potential of the Chinese ski industry.
Switzerland has the reputation of a top ski destination worldwide and known for its expertise in winter sport infrastructure.
- Swiss ski resorts and relevant management companies may have the opportunities to get involved in resort master planning, ski area design etc. for the high-end ski resorts in China. Furthermore China badly needs expertise on the operational management (for example the ski resort dual usage for winter and summer seasons) as well as the professional training programs for the ski instructors.
- In terms of facilities, most ski resorts in China are still poorly equipped with one or a few magic carpets. Only 122 of the 568 ski resorts have ski lifts. They are far behind the European standard. Chinese ski resorts, which have been rapidly expanding across China, especially in East and North China are targeting China’s affluent and growing middle class. This will drive the construction of resorts with brand new or improved facilities and the consumption of ski products, where Swiss suppliers, such as cableway system manufacturers, individual skiing equipment providers are likely to benefit from the Chinese investment in this field.
- The lack of precipitation, despite temperatures that are below freezing, presents the biggest practical problem for the practice of ski, that means most ski resorts rely heavily on artificial snow. In 2015 China had a total of 4000 sets of snow making machines, 3500 sets were imported, 500 sets were produced locally. Regarding grooming machines, China has so far about 330 sets, 300 are imported. Swiss snowmaking and grooming machine manufacturers should definitely explore the business opportunities in China.
- The Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Fact Finding Mission, organized by the Swiss Business Hub China, has taken place between the 13th to the 16th February 2017. 15 Swiss companies & associations active in winter sports and event organization, in particular products and services related to construction, infrastructure, green building technologies, resort planning, supply chain management or winter sports equipment and other consumer goods/services have participated. The Fact Finding Mission has been a unique opportunity for the participating companies to present their products and knowhow to decision makers and authorities in charge of the preparation of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, like B2G meeting with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (in short: BOCOWG) & B2G meeting with the Leading Group Office of Hebei Province for 24th Olympic Winter Games in Chongli; as well as meetings with private developers of ski resorts, like Genting Secret Garden & Thaiwoo Ski Resort in Chongli.
International Winter Sports Trade Fairs – register now!
- The WWSE World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo 2017 takes place from 7-10 September 2017 in Beijing. More information and registration
- The ISPO Beijing takes place from 24-27 January 2018 and is the leading multi-segment sports exhibition in Asia. More information and registration
How you can benefit from these opportunities
If you would like to further evaluate the opportunities related to the Chinese ski industry, please get in touch with our S-GE Senior Consultant for China / HK / Taiwan Daniel Bont or with our Swiss Business Hub China.