Skier numbers to Japan understandably dropped last year, but this year this year the bookings are booming.
We launched this season's blog with a post on the marketing war between the ski resorts of Australia's marketing body, Snow Australia, and the New Zealand resorts, who had seen a year-on-year increase of Australians skiing across the ditch.
Win a trip for two to ski in Japan, just by posting on this blog. See below for details.
Now, halfway into the 2012 season, we're curious to know whether Aussie ski resort campaigns to encourage Australians to ski at home in 2012 are just chest beating or a true game-changer.
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According to Victorian Alpine Resorts Park Entry Statistics (not official skier days or visits) for Winter 2012, Falls Creek and Mt Hotham are both experiencing significant increases. Meanwhile, Mt Buller experienced a decrease in visitor numbers, except for week five when they had a major increase.
The increases at Hotham put it in the lead with consistent week-on-week increases on 2011. Falls Creek has also increased every week except for one: week six, when they received less park visitors than the same week in 2011.
To be fair, Australia has so far had a consistent season with enough regular snow falls to keep most of the resorts in play. (Sadly for Mt Buller, they have not received the best of the storms.)
But whether the 22 per cent increase of skiers and boarders reported by Falls Creek during the recent school holidays is a result of clever marketing or good snow coverage is hard to assess. We assume the bean counters are happy either way.
Perisher won't release their year-to-date figures but CEO Peter Brulisauer commented: “With the launch of our Freedom Pass in September of last year and great value offers available on our lift, lesson and hire products through the Perisher online store we are seeing more visitors than in the last couple of years.”
Thredbo also kept their numbers to themselves but were happy to report there was an increase on last year's skier days so far.
Meanwhile, New Zealand resorts are doing what they can to put a positive spin on less than stellar conditions. The recent snow storm has thankfully helped reinvigorate their season.
The Mackenzie ski fields between Christchurch and Queenstown are beaming. Mt Dobson scored 120 centimetres (that is not a typo) of new snow on August 1 and Roundhill received 65 centimetres from the same storm.
The Southern Lakes fields may not have been too snowy earlier this season but, with half the season still to go, it is way too soon to give up.
My best ever day of super dry powder skiing in the southern hemisphere was in late September a few seasons back when the snow gods blessed us with a blast of winter in spring.
Even with the increase in Australians skiing at home this year, the exodus of Australian skiers to overseas markets may still be a concern for the Australian ski industry. Travelplan, the top international tour operator to Aspen/Snowmass and Telluride in Colorado, Park City in Utah, and Jackson Hole in Wyoming have sold 25 per cent of last season's total sales to these destinations for the 2012/13 season.
It's possible that when a season is good downunder, skiers and boarders get so hooked that they might be prepared to trade in some mortgage payments to get more of the white stuff, without waiting another year? That would be a win-win for home and abroad.
It is Japan that is making a surprising sales impact for the second winter season since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Skier numbers to Japan understandably dropped last year (30 per cent) but Travelplan is now experiencing a 400 per cent increase on sales to all resorts in Japan compared to this time last year.
Liquid Snow Tours in Hakuba are experiencing a similar boom and have had year-on-year increase on Hakuba bookings, even during the post-tsunami season when everyone else was lagging. They have also purchased two new three and four star hotels in the area including one ski in ski out hotel.
SkiJapan.com are also benefiting with a 177 per cent increase in bookings at the same time last year and they are expecting their busiest season yet. Perhaps the USA and Canada versus Japan battle for Australian skiers is the real war to watch.
I'm curious to see the results of the annual Roy Morgan survey of Australians that ski at home or overseas when it's released in December. Last time 49 per cent of Australians surveyed revealed their last snow holiday in the past year had been overseas not at home.
After this season that may change back in the Australian resorts' favour.
WIN A SKI/BOARD TRIP TO JAPAN
Steve Lee taking on the mountains of Hakuba with Liquid Snow Tours. Photo credit: Chris Hocking
We are giving you four chances to win a ski trip to Japan giveaway with Liquid Snow Tours. All you have to do is post one comment on the blog topic each week. If you comment every week then you get four entries. The most entertaining or informative entry from all the blogs over the four weeks will be judged the winner.
Enter and you'll be in the running to win return flights for two from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Cairns to Tokyo. Transfers to Hakuba, seven nights twin share at The Lab, hot breakfast daily, five day multiresort lift passes for two for six resorts, welcome drinks, daily transfers to ski resorts and more. Total prize value AU$4990. Terms & conditions.
This week's blog topic is: Where do you ski or snowboard - Australia or overseas - and why? Just tell us what you love about skiing where you do. Simple.
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Keep those instagram pics coming! Tag your winter inspiration moments with #misssnowitall and you could WIN return flights for two across the ditch with Air New Zealand. Each week we'll post five more instagram pics to our gallery so enter as many times as you like. You can view all the pics tagged here. Terms and conditions.
Last week's winner of the SKINS S400 pack is Ross. Check your email for a note from us.