Top 25 winter ski destinations for international travelers
Austria’s Pinzgau-Pongau region of the Alps is ranked #1.
February 6, 2018 – Austria’s Pinzgau-Pongau region of the Alps is ranked #1 in Visa’s list of the top 25 global winter ski destinations,* based on a three-year average of cross-border arrivals according to the Visa International Travel (VISIT) platform. Four of the top 10 are in Austria—home to the popular Kitzbühel resort area—and most of the top 25 ski destinations are in Europe, with notable exceptions including the Hokkaido region of Japan (#7), Sochi in Russia (#14) and a strong showing from Canada, including Mont-Tremblant (#18), Banff (#19) and Whistler (#22). Japan, Italy and especially Russia are noteworthy for their relatively high reliance on emerging market skiers, unlike most of the other regions featured.
So far, Italy, Japan and Canada are the top-trending destinations of the current season (highlighted in table below), based on year-over-year (YoY) growth rates in cross-border arrivals in the fourth quarter of 2017. Overall, international arrivals to ski destinations posted a solid start to the winter travel season this year, growing at 14 percent YoY in 4Q2017.
Cross-border arrivals (2015-2017 first quarter average, thousands)
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, La Clusaz, Grand Massif, Megeve, Portes do Soleil
Espace Killy, La Plagne, Paradiski, Champagny-en-Vanoise, Le Trois Vallees
Kitzbuhel Alps, Westendorf
Niseko, Sapporo Kokusai, Kiroro
Val di Fieme, Pinzolo, Mezzana, Dimaro Folgarida
Le Deux Alpes
Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Pila, Breuil-Cervinia
Krasnaya Polyana, Rosa Khutor
Haus im Ennstal, Schladming
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Falcade
Ponte di Legno
Source: VISIT Cities. * With no clear global standards on how to track travel at the sub-national level, VISIT reports cross-border arrivals at a metropolitan area level for major cities (equivalent to metropolitan statistical areas in the United States or functional urban areas in Europe) and at a county, province, or prefecture level for destinations in non-metro areas (corresponding generally to the European Union’s NUTS-3 levels). For ski destinations, we combined areas which shared similar slopes to ensure comparability across countries.
The Visa International Travel (VISIT) platform is a proprietary model that combines Visa's cardholder data with publicly-available cross-border arrival statistics. The platform provides a comprehensive view into high-frequency cross-border travel flows, currently encompassing the top 82 origin and destination countries, which collectively account for more than 80 percent of global travel. VISIT combines unique counts of Visa cardholders that register a face-to-face transaction at a merchant outside their home country in a given calendar month with other transaction data such as average spend per cardholder, card usage patterns at lodging merchants and others. Visa uses this data to econometrically model official arrival statistics compiled by various government sources and to generate estimates that fill in the large gaps existing in the cross-border travel data.
VISIT Cities, an extension of the VISIT platform, estimates cross-border travel at the city level within select countries: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands. Visits by city are derived by scaling national numbers using city-level details from VisaNet, such as lodging transaction counts by city and unique cardholder counts at lodging merchants by country.
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