Skiing Continues to Grow In China

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SAM Magazine-Bejing, China, Mar. 1, 2007-Asia is seeing a boom in skiing that could provide opportunities for European and North American resort companies and equipment manufacturers. In the last decade, more 300 ski areas have opened in China, complemented by three indoor ski centers. The majority of the areas are very basic: a run or two, served by a single lift.

However, a few resorts are adopting a more sophisticated approach to development. The foremost is Xiling Snow Mountain. The resort, which opened in 2004, is one of several which has the potential to become a major international destination, tapping into the growing market for snowsports in Asia.

Ninety minutes outside of the regional capital, Chengdu, the ski area is riding a wave of interest in the region. Chengdu was named the Best Tourism City in China in 2006 by the World Tourism Organization. Chengdu attracted more than 40 million domestic guests and 580,000 foreign arrivals in 2006, 18.7 percent higher than in 2005.

Currently the resort features a gondola, double and quad chairs which serve ten trails. Future investment includes developing the upper slopes of the mountain, which is more than 16,000 feet in elevation, giving the resort the potential to have one of the world's largest lift-served vertical drops. The resort reported 80,000 visitors in January 2007, including more than 10,000 foreign tourists, mainly from Southeast Asia and South Korea, an increase of 20 percent from January 2006.

China itself is hot, with a reported increase of 15 percent in tourism last year over 2005. China is now the world's fourth largest destination and has the world's largest domestic tourism market.