THE Niseko Promotion Board recently released visitor statistics for the 2009/10 season which showed a marked increase in tourists across the board.
International guest numbers at a selection of Niseko’s main accommodation providers were up 41% on the 2008/9 season, which was hit by the Global Financial Crisis and a rapidly strengthening yen.
Domestic tourist numbers were also up – 16% for Hokkaido visitors and 3.12% nationally – an impressive increase considering the popularity of skiing in Japan still seems to be on the decline. Domestic tourists continue to make up for more than 60% of Niseko visitors.
Among international tourists, Australians were still the largest single group, and recorded a 33% increase on the previous season’s figure.
At about two-thirds of Australian visitor numbers and rapidly catching up were Hong Kong tourists – helped by direct flights to Sapporo but also reaffirming HK’s flourishing love affair with Niseko.
Singaporeans were the next largest group and also recorded a significant increase, as did visitors from Thailand, Korea and Taiwan, demonstrating that an increasing large middle class in Asia were seeing skiing in Japan as a desirable holiday choice.
European and American visitor numbers remained stable but NPB coordinator Chris Chan recently attended the largest ski tourism industry show in North America, the Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) in Banff, and said Niseko was starting to make an impression.
“There is certainly a heightening awareness of Niseko as an international travel destination, and I see the North American market as having huge potential,” he said.