Will demand for ski travel increase in emerging markets?
Currently, a global average of 6 percent of winter travel is to ski destinations, according to Visa’s analysis of VISIT data. The propensity to travel to a ski destination is very low in emerging markets when compared to Europe and especially countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, where as many as one in six trips taken during the winter months is to a ski destination. The convenience of their close proximity to popular ski destinations benefits many European countries, but is necessarily the case for most emerging markets. Asian ski tourists are skiing predominantly in Asia—with two-thirds choosing Japan in the 1Q2017 ski season. The economies of Southeast Asia bear watching. Though the developing Southeast Asian economies have lower per-capita income and currently represent less than 1 percent of tourist arrivals worldwide, they have much younger populations and are experiencing rapid income growth, according to Visa Business and Economic Insights analysis of data from VISIT and Oxford Economics.
What would happen if countries that are currently below average in their winter travel to ski destinations were to increase their visits to match half the global average? Based on Visa Business and Economic analysis, this convergence could lead to foreign visits to ski destinations rising by up to 20 percent. Some of these new visitors will come from advanced economies such as the United States, and as many as 1.2 million new ski travelers could come from the emerging markets. Potential further upside exists, as these projections represent a shift in existing travel patterns. Ideally the increase in ski visits would also be the result of greater demand for winter travel.
One potential hurdle to attracting more emerging market visitors to ski destinations is the perception that ski vacations cost more than others. To investigate this, Visa calculated the current weighted average cost for more than 750 winter travel destinations. Total costs include lodging, local transportation, dining, entertainment and shopping, but exclude the cost of getting to the destination. While ski destinations are more expensive, the arrivals-weighted average amount spent on Visa-branded cards by visitors to ski destinations is around $1,200, compared to $1,100 for other sites. The differences are not too far apart. Additionally, emerging market travelers are already taking over16 million winter trips to destinations that are on par to this average cost, according to Visa’s analysis of VISIT data.
Download complete analysis in PDF
Additional highlights of this report: