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Monday April 17, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

There are 2,106 main resorts to chose from but is it in Europe, North America or elsewhere? All is revealed in a new report just published.

Most of the ski resorts in the world are in the Northern Hemisphere with almost half in Europe;  48% to be precise.

35% are in the Alps with 13% in the Pyrenees, Scandinavia and other parts of the continent.

Europe is the capital of world skiing.

21% of the world's ski resorts are in the Americas, most in North America.

There are 48 major ski resorts as defined by having more than 1m visitors.

Three quarters of these are in the Alps.

However China is the fastest growing ski country followed by Russia.

Several new ski areas have been identified since last year's issue with 646 in China and 354 in Russia, though some of these are very small.

So, which resort is the most popular?

Once again the top spot goes to.......... La Plagne in France.

The rankings are decided according to the average number of skier visits in the season and the French resort has hung on to its first place.

The Austrian ski area of SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental moves up one place to take the second spot, with La Plagne's next door neighbour,  Les Arcs also moving up one place to third.

There are five new entries in the Top 50 this year.

Madonna di Campiglio in Italy has come out of nowhere to take 9th spot in the table.

The other new resorts to feature are Park City/Canyons in Utah (22), Val di Fassa/Carezza in Italy (36),  Lech Zürs-Warth in Austria (39) and Livigno in Italy (45).

The full list is reproduced below.

As we have said before, it is not necessarily an indication of the best resorts.

The rankings are based on the number of "skier visits" during the last few winter seasons.

One person taking part in any downhill activity on any one day is classed as one skier visit.  

So if you ski for 6 days on your week's holiday, you will be responsible for 6 skier visits.

The figures come from the operating companies or marketing departments and some are only estimates.

They have been pulled together by the respected Swiss consultant, Laurent Vanat for his 2017 International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism.

This year's publication shows that little has changed.

France is still the most popular destination for British skiers, accounting for more than a third of travellers.

Austria is ranked second, capturing about a quarter of the British market. 

Next is Italy (14 per cent), Andorra and Switzerland (both around 6 per cent), North America (5 percent) and Bulgaria (4 per cent).

Vanat says that nearly everywhere the industry is facing the challenge of generating long-term growth.

"In many places, the market is more than mature and the baby-boomers represent the majority of participants," he says.

"This generation will progressively exit some of the mature markets without being adequately replaced by future generations with the same enthusiasm for skiing.

"The need to stimulate the market is extremely important and not always sufficiently addressed."

La Plagne, FranceLa Plagne, France















The UK tour operator, Ski Amis, offers La Plagne and it is one of its most popular resorts.

"La Plagne remains my favourite resort of all the ones we cover - and I have skied there for years.  It offers such a wide expanse of skiing with all types of terrain - from the nicely bashed motorway to the rougher pistes and a lot of off-piste areas to explore," said Christine van Zadelhoff from Ski Amis.

"Somehow the resort just seems a bit less commercial than the Three Valleys and less busy - the investments they have done to upgrade the lift systems over the last 10 years have been significant and for me it just feels like home.  We love the resort ourselves and we are planning to add an additional chalet to our programme in La Plagne next year," Christine added.

And if you want to see what makes La Plagne and the whole ski area of the Paradiski so special then see this earlier feature from Christine van Zadelhoff of Ski Amis.

PlanetSKI's Chief Reporter, Jane Peel, visited La Plagne twice this winter. 

See her first report, looking at whether La Plagne is under-rated as a resort only for intermediates and her second, as she returned in search of some off-piste.

Meanwhile the team from SNO are currently in La Plagne for an end of season trip:

"La Plagne doesn't have the apres of other mega resorts but beats most for family friendliness and snowsure late-season skiing, with its own glacier. The ski area is huge and those wanting more can buy the full pass to ski equally big Les Arcs via the connecting gondola," said the founder of SNO, Richard Sinclair.

"Even the ESF is nice to Brits here Wink perhaps as their chief in La Plagne was the first Englishman to complete the speed test, back in the day - Seb is an ex racer and gentleman of the first water. If you want to introduce kids to snowsport holidays, avoid intimidating midwinter weather and go t-shirt skiing in the Easter sunshine of La Plagne - they'll be hooked forever!"

The team from SNOThe team from SNO
















TOP RANKED RESORTS  (last year's rankings in brackets)

1.  La Plagne (1)

2.  SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental (3)

3.  Les Arcs (4)

4.  Saalbach Hinterlglemm Leogang (2)

5.  Ischgl/Samnaun Silvretta Arena (5)

6.  Whistler Blackcomb (6)

7.  Gardena/Alpe di Siusi (32).  Last year this was listed as Selva-Val Gardena

8.  Val Thorens-Orelle (8)

9.  Madonna di Campiglio (-)

10. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis (10)

11. Vail (9)

12. Chamonix/Les Houches (14)

13. Breckenridge (11)

14. Courchevel-Meribel-Mottaret (12)

15. Grandvalira (16)

16. Sölden (17)

17. Zillertal Arena (19)

18. Flachau-Wagrein-Alpendorf (20)

19. Les Menuires (23)

20. Tignes (22)

21. Kitzbühel (25)

22. Park City/Canyons (-)

23. Alpe d'Huez (21)

24.  Zermatt (24)

25. St Anton/St Christoph/Stuben (27)

26. Val d'Isère (28)

27. Mammoth (30)

28. Kronplatz/Plan de Corones (25)

29. Alta Badia (7)

30. Flaine-Morillon-Samoens-Sixt (29)

31. Serre Chevalier (31)

32. Les Deux Alpes (33)

33. Silvretta Montafon (36)

34. Zillertal 3000-Mayrhofen (15)

35. Adelboden-Lenk (35)

36. Val di Fassa/Carezza (-)

37. Avoriaz (38)

38. Davos-Klosters (34)

39. Lech/Zürs-Warth (-)

40. St Moritz (37)

41. Sestriere Via Lattea (17)

42. Schladming 4Berge (13)

43. Stubaier Gletscher (43)

44. Verbier (42)

45. Livigno (-)

46. Copper Mountain (40)

47. Keystone (41)

48. Jungfrauregion (39)

49. Hochzillertal-Hochfügen-Kaltenbach (44)

If you want a copy of the full report then send an email to and we can forward it on.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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