Each year, millions of people head to the mountains, and winter sports tourism accounts for 18% of the world’s most visited country’s total annual tourism income – a total of €9billion in 2018.
In all, 100,000 seasonal jobs are created every year to cope with the influx of visitors seeking snow, sun and après-ski at some 350 dedicated ski resorts.
There is no denying skiing is big business. Even the winter school holidays are staggered to extend the ski season.
The country is divided into three educational zones, each with different dates for their February and spring breaks in a move to control the annual rush to the slopes. But a survey by social researchers Crédoc said only 8% of people go skiing at least every other year including 40% of managers who go on winter holidays at least once every two years, compared to 9% of workers.
Just 13% of the population are skiers – 17% of whom say it is one of their top three sports. It was the seventh most popular sporting activity in 2017, after hiking, swimming, rugby, football, cycling and tennis.According to the latest figures from Statista, Germany has more skiers – 14.6million take part each year, compared to the 8.5million in France.
In percentage terms, the Swiss are the most active skiers, with 37%, ahead of Austria with 36%, then Norway and Finland with 25% and 24% respectively.
The Fédération Française de Ski has 950 ski clubs and 130,000 skiers – of whom 48,000 are serious sports skiers and 82,000 are leisure skiers.