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How Hokkaido’s Flourishing Skiing Industry Is Redefining Niseko’s Tourism, Property Sectors

Japan now boasts the distinction of having the so-called ‘Aspen of Asia’ – a thriving skiing paradise in Hokkaido where the average snowfall each year reaches depth of up to 600 inches. Ironically, the country’s frigid region is red-hot these days and seeing boom that runs across 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, according to Mansion Global, adding that in the 1990s the Japanese province’s early batch of international and local visitors did not mind the then scarce accommodation options. What mattered most was the unique skiing experience afforded to tourists – the highlight of which is the powdery snow known to many ski enthusiasts as japow.

Japow was characterised in a Bloomberg report as “the perfect texture of ultra-dry, fluffy snow,” that purportedly can only be found in northern Japan. Such a natural wonder was perfected 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 April – and in the process contributes to the prefecture’s ongoing skiing explosion. The industry itself was responsible for the big changes that transpired in the island. Its economy has seen a radical transformation, manifested chiefly on the tourism, service and property sectors.

Premium Skiing Resorts

In recent years, Hokkaido morphed into a favourite winter holiday destination and visitors from around the world were lured in by the hundreds of thousands. Essentially, the flood of Asian holidaymakers that visited the province led to its transformation.

Skiing picked up a fresh meaning when experienced in Hokkaido, and that appears to be what frequent visitors have been relishing. This certainly applies to the Chinese visitors that now regard Hokkaido as second to none for the ultimate skiing experience.

As far as the Chinese are concerned, “When it comes to skiing, the world is different in Japan,” The Financial Times reported.

In general, foreign tourists that made their way to Hokkaido during the winter season were “attracted to the very favourable snow conditions,” the publication added.

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 have their specific selling points such as the kilometric vertical runs and the world-class skiing facilities but what really draw the multitudes of visitors, what convince them to keep on coming is japow, which the report described as the best snow in Japan.

Unsurprisingly, Hokkaido’s tempting allure has already reached the other side of the Pacific, as far as the United States. Bloomberg said the level of U.S. tourists flying in to the prefecture 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 have counted 2.2 million of visitors that signified an increase of almost 18 percent from the previous year. More significantly, the highest number tourist arrivals recorded by the prefecture was over 800,000 from just five years.

And inevitably, the boom in the ski and tourism industries delivered the goods for the property sector, which serve the two markets. As of the last count, Japan lists 279 ski resorts and the volume is bested only by U.S.-based operations.

Bloomberg said a good number of tourists exploring Hokkaido’s skiing terrain are also on the hunt for something else. They look for luxury property investment options such as the Snow Dog Village in Niseko, which starts at $275,000.