NISEKO is this season bustling with guests, following an unseasonably slow 08/09 winter.
Holiday management companies have announced that bookings are up about 30 per cent on last season.
Hokkaido Tracks added that the Christmas-New Year period was at around 75-80 per cent occupancy, while Chinese-New Year in mid-February is ‘as close to 100 per cent full as you can get’.
HT says the big agencies are still bringing in plenty of Australians, but say the Aussies are ‘plateauing’.
It’s Southeast Asia – led by Hong Kong, then Singapore and China – that is a burgeoning market, possibly able to ‘overtake the Australian market in coming years’.
Asian domestics Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia also have more of a presence in Niseko this year.
The Vale Niseko has ‘barely a spare bed’ over the Christmas-New Year holidays, and only a handful of availabilities in January.
Early and late February stats are much the same for The Vale Niseko, but for Chinese New Year the hotel – which is in its first year – is completely booked out, and has had inquiries from around three times its capacity.
Nisade says Hong Kong and Singapore tourists combined already outnumber Australians, however Aussies still make up the biggest single nationality.
Meanwhile, it seems holidaymakers are more affluent and spending more in Niseko, too.
Although there have been many new bars and restaurants open in Hirafu this season to spread the crowds out, booking ahead is still a must, and many vendors have reached capacity night after night. Some have even experienced some of their best patronage in years.
An anonymous source also revealed ‘the cream of the crop’ of celebrities were visiting Niseko this season – with one client so high profile they required armed guards to escort them around the village.