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The most popular ski resort in the world?
Saturday June 22, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

There are 2,106 main resorts to chose from but is it in the Alps, North America or perhaps elsewhere? Have a guess before you read this story about the most visited resorts. Over on our Facebook page only one reader guessed correctly.

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.

But which ski resort is the most popular?

There have been many guesses over on our Facebook page - Whistler, Aspen, Val d'Isère, Verbier, Zermatt, Vail, Killington and Tignes to name a few.

It is none of these by the way - In fact only one person has guessed correctly.

It is a hard one to judge and also to define what is a ski area and what is a resort.

Should Meribel and Courchevel be separate or part of Les Trois Vallees? What about Val d'Isere and Tignes - are they different resorts or linked as Espace Killy.

What about Les Arcs with its different centres?

Should people who ski in Tzoumaz be counted as part of Verbier as they use the same slopes but come from a different resort?

It is not an exact science and some will disagree about the methodology. However there is a report recently out that claims the answer.

So, which is it?

Swiss Alps












The most popular resort in the world according to the recently released report from the International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism is............. La Plagne in France. 

The report is published by the Swiss based consultant, Laurent Vanat.

Here at PlanetSKI we have checked with some industry experts on the accuracy of the figures and although all statistics need to be taken with a certain pinch of salt the report is widely respected and makes the best stab at which ones are the most popular.  We have backed it up with other statistcis we have seen from tour operators and industry sources.

The report says La Plagne has more than 2.5 million skier visits.

In second place is the Ski Welt in Austria and coming third is Les Arcs in France.

In North America the most popular is Whistler in Canada that comes 9th in the world rankings, with Breckenridge the favourite in the USA.

It is in 21st place.

La Plagne, FranceLa Plagne, France












Here is the full table according to the International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism.

1.La Plagne

2. SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser

3. Les Arcs

4. Courchevel-Méribel-Mottaret

5. Kitzbuehl

6. Ischgl/Samnaun/Silvretta

7. Saalbach Hinterglemm/Leogang

8. Alpes d'Huez

9.  Whistler Blackcomb

10. Val Thorens

11. Soelden

12. Val Gardena

13. Sestriere Via Lattea

14. Zillertal/Mayrhofen

15. Les Ménuires

16. Grand Valira

17. Tignes

18. Flachau-Wagrein-Alpendorf

19. Davos-Klosters

20. Zermatt

21. Breckenridge

22. Serre-Chevallier

23. Mammoth

24. Vail

25. Chamonix

26. St. Moritz

27. Adelboden-Lenk

28. Planai-Hochwurzen-Hauser

29. Val d'Isère

30. Les Deux-Alpes

31. Flaine-Morillon-Samoens-Sixt

32. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis

33. Zillertalarena

34. St. Anton

35. Jungfrauregion

36. Alta Badia

37. Keystone

38. Verbier

39. Avoriaz

40. Gstaad-Region

Many to choose fromMany to choose from













If you wish to read a copy of the full 100-page report that contains some fascinating facts and statistics then we have a link to it over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

The figures have been compiled on the basis of their annual average skier visits during the last few winters using published data or estimates.

1 of 26,7641 of 26,764













And while we are on the subject of statistics there are apparently 26,764 ski lifts in the world and the estimated number of skier visits worldwide has been put at 400 million.

Apart from the number of ski resorts across the globe they are also in some surprising places.

Recently there have been new ski areas constructed in Eastern Europe and China, but there are a number of other small players, spread out across the globe: Algeria, Cyprus, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Lesotho, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and many more.

Here at PlanetSKI we enjoy visiting some of these smaller destinations and have reported on the ski resorts in Greece and last season we visited some of the resorts Hautes-Pyrenees in France.

We have also sent video reports from Argentina and Scotland.

In the last couple of years we have also visited Sochi in Russia and a number of resorts in Finland.

Last winter we saw what Norway had to offer.

Into the wildernessSochi, Russia













We recently reported on PlanetSKI on the number of countries in the world where skiing is available - whether it be on a mountain or an artificial slope.  The answer may surprise you; see here for that related story.

The report also looks at the future and in its conclusions raises concerns about a lack of new people coming into the snowsports market.

"Nearly everywhere, the industry is facing the challenge of generating long term growth. In many places, the market is more than mature. The baby-boomers represent the majority of participants. 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," the report says.

As we said earlier in this article if you wish to read a copy of the full 100-page report that contains some fascinating facts and statistics then we have a link to it over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

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