Published on : Tuesday, February 26, 2019
The number of international tourists visiting in Japan’s ski resorts is expanding amid a continued slump in the ski and snowboard industries. The businesses and municipalities are trying to accelerate the increase of overseas visitors, while also hoping to pick up the domestic demand.
Here some of the tour operators and local municipality company were trialing at a defunct ski area in Senboku, Akita Prefecture, in mid-February, where it is shown that number of international tourists is raising.
The Japan Tourism Agency hopes that this kind of initiative will help to increase the number of repeat and long-term visitors. Japan Tourism Agency is funding related surveys and it plans to promote similar programs nationwide.
Japan’s high-quality powder snow, dubbed Japow, is well known international market. There are large resorts in Hokkaido and Nagano Prefecture have seen a sharp rise in visitors from China and other Asian countries in addition to tourists from Australia, Europe and the United States. The number of foreign tourists who visit Japan to ski or snowboard has more than tripled since 2012, increasing from about 277,000 to about 858,000 in 2017, according to Japan Tourism Agency estimates. To deal with this influx, many areas are providing more information in foreign languages and hiring multilingual staff.
Other facilities are trying to differentiate themselves eyeing domestic demand, including by restricting the use of snowboards to attract older skiers or making themselves more family-friendly, by providing facilities for parents such as breastfeeding rooms, among other measures. In December 2017, the nation’s first new ski area in 14 years opened in Hyogo Prefecture.
The ski resorts such as Niseko in Hokkaido and Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture have created their own rules for backcountry skiing, such as requiring people to submit routes beforehand or pay rescue fees.