Japan now boasts the distinction of being the ‘Aspen of Asia’ – a thriving ski paradise in Hokkaido called Niseko where the average snowfall each year reaches depths of over 16 meters.
Ironically, although temperatures often reach below 20 degrees, the area is red-hot these days and is seeing an unprecedented boom that runs across all sectors, first firing up the island’s ski industry and then driving up multiple market growths.
Hokkaido as a skiing mecca was first known to Australians in the 1990s . The early batch of international and local visitors did not mind the then scarce accommodation options, what mattered most was the incredible skiing experience – known to ski enthusiasts as japow.
Japow was characterised in a Bloomberg report as “the perfect texture of ultra-dry, fluffy snow,” that can only be found in northern Japan, this is thanks to the merger of the moisture coming from the Sea of Japan and the biting cold wind blowing down from Siberia.
The result of that perfect mixture blankets Hokkaido for nearly half of the year – from November through to April – and is the reason behind the skiing explosion. The industry has been responsible for the big changes that have taken place on the island, where the economy has seen a radical transformation, especially in the tourism industry and the property sector.
Premium Skiing Resorts
In recent years, Hokkaido has become the favourite winter holiday destination for visitors from around the world, especially Asia where skiing is becoming more and more popular, this has led to its radical transformation and will contribute to its continued growth, as more and more people take up skiing.
Hokkaido, Niseko has become a mecca for ski enthusiasts, and this certainly applies to the Chinese visitors that now regard Hokkaido as second to none for the ultimate skiing experience. “When it comes to skiing, the world is different in Japan,” The Financial Times reported.
Foreign tourists that made their way to Hokkaido during the winter season were “attracted to the very favourable snow conditions,” the publication added and for this purpose, visitors know exactly where to go – “in the resorts of Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and Annupuri that contain the island’s best skiing.”
These resorts all have their unique selling points and world-class skiing facilities however what really draws the multitudes of visitors and keeps them to keep on coming is japow, - the best snow in Japan & possibly the world.
Unsurprisingly, Hokkaido’s best kept secret has already reached the other side of the Pacific, to the United States. Bloomberg said the level of U.S. tourists making the long trip to experience 'japow' saw an incredible growth of nearly 400 percent in the past seven years. Many view the skiing trip to Hokkaido as “total package” that they now prefer the Japanese island over other skiing destination, including Aspen in Colorado.
Tourism & Property Explosion
There is little doubt at this point that Hokkaido is considered a tourism hotspot. By the end of 2017, authorities reported that some 2.2 million visitors flew into Sapporo airport which signified an increase of almost 18 percent from the previous year.
And inevitably, the boom in the ski and tourism industries has spilled over into the property sector, which serve the two markets. As of the last count, Japan lists 279 ski resorts and the volume is out done only by U.S.-based operations. With the four villages of Niseko leading the way being the only true Asian branded resort location .
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