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The most popular ski areas in the world
Sunday May 11, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

An annual survey has been released showing the most popular ski resorts across the world and which country has the most skiers. So, what are the answers?

France is more popular with skiers and snowboarders than the other nations, while the resort that has the most visits is, once again, the French resort of La Plagne.

That is according to figures released in the 2014 International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism.

It is produced by Laurent Vanat, an independent tourism consultant based in Switzerland.

The report, now in its 6th edition, compiles information from across the snowsports world and is gathered for a number of sources.

Here at PlanetSKI we take all such reports with a pinch of salt as 100% accurate information is hard to come by, indeed some of the figures are from estimates.

It is also up for debate where one resort ends and another starts, especially in the large linked ski areas of Europe.

However the report is well-respected and throws up some interesting facts/figures and does certainly illustrate trends.

56 countries are covered, which represents 99.6% of the total market volume.

New for this year are reports on Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, North Korea, Morocco and Uzbekistan.

Once again La Plagne is said to be the most popular ski resort in the world with over 2.5m skier visits per year. Last year's position is in brackets.

1.  La Plagne (1)

2.  Saalbach Hinterglemm/Leogang (7)

3.  SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser (2)

4.  Les Arcs (3)

5.  Ischgl/Samnaun/Silvretta 6)

6.  Whistler Blackcomb (9)

7.  Courchevel, Méribel, Mottaret (4)

8.  Val Thorens (10)

9.  Vail (24)

10. Breckenridge (21)

11. Serfaus (32)

12. Alpes d'Huez (8)

13. Sestriere Via Lattea (13)

14. Zillertal/Mayrhofen (14)

15. Alta Badia (36)

16. Soelden (11)

17. Tignes (17)

18. Les Ménuires (15)

19. Flachau-Wagrain-Alpendorf (18)

20. Grand Valira (16)

France remains the country most popular for skiers across the world as it offers a wide mix of runs for intermediate skiers and has ski in/ski out convenience with a generally modern lift system.

France is the top destination with the British with around 1/3 of British skiers and snowboarders heading to the French Alps or the lesser-known resorts of the Hautes-Pyrenees in south-west France.

This seems to be backed up on a global scale with eight French ski areas in the Top 20 ski destinations.

Austria has seven.

France also has a higher number of overall visits according to the report.

Top 20Top 20









Those dropping out of the Top 20 are Kitzbühel (25), Val Gardena (23), Davos-Klosters (29) and Zermatt (22).

Other famous European names include Chamonix (21), St Anton (26), Val d'Isere (28), Flaine (31), Avoriaz (38) and Verbier (39).

Over in North America there are just three others in the Top 50 with Mammoth (32), Keystone (43) and Copper Mountain (44).

For a full PlanetSKI report on the 2013 report then see here.

Swiss Alps












The report throws up a number of other interesting statistics:

-      48% of the ski resorts in the world are in Europe, with over 1/3 in The Alps.

-      83% of the major resorts across the world are in the Alps. (A major resort is one with +1m visits/annum).

-      There are 26,934 ski lifts in the world.

-       Holland has no mountains but 1m people go skiing.

-       In the USA 3.8% of its skiers are from overseas.

-       There are 50 operational indoor snow centres across the world.

-       The United States, Japan and France have the most ski resorts with more than 200 each.

-       In Norway, Switzerland and Austria 25% of the population ski.

-       25 years ago there were around 40 resorts in Europe offering summer skiing, now there are a dozen.

-       Uzbekistan has 2 ski resorts.

-       8% of foreign visitors to France are from Russia.

-       Andorra has 62 peaks over 2,000m.

-       The first record of a skier was in Norway 4,000 years ago.

-       Sierra Nevada in Spain is the southern-most resort in mainland Europe with 800,000 skiers visits per year.

Mountain trendsMountain trends













For the UK market the most useful set of statistics comes in the Crystal Ski Industry Report that is published each year. 

See our PlanetSKI report on the 2013 editon and we will be reporting on the next one when it is published in July 2014.

The 2014 International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism runs to 114-pages and more information can be found here.

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