China's Affluent Discover SkiingChristina Larson
While Paris, London, and New York are popular destinations for sightseeing and shopping—boosting sales of Gucci, Prada, and other premiere brands—far fewer Chinese tourists make the trek to Vale, Colo.; Whistler, Canada; Zermatt, Switzerland, or other renowned international skiing resorts.
The association of skiing with a luxury lifestyle may appeal to upwardly mobile Chinese, but the sport has only recently begun to gain traction in China. In 2000, the country had about 200,000 skiers, according to the China Ski Association. Five years later, the number had jumped to roughly 5 million. Today, China may have as many as 20 million skiers, the luxury-retail website Jing Daily reports.
Last weekend, Nov. 21-23, “Ski & Style” hit Beijing. The industry event, sponsored by the Beijing Park Hyatt, included exhibitions by luxury skiwear brand Bogner as well as displays by national tourism authorities in Switzerland, Iceland, and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, a co-branded Westin and Sheraton luxury ski resort complex recently opened in northern China’s Jilin province. The ski resort is situated among the Changbai Mountains, which run along the border between China and North Korea—not typically an area associated with jet-set pastimes.