Japan's ski resorts slopes thronged with foreigners

TOKYO - Ski resorts in Japan are benefiting from an increase in the number of foreign visitors from Australia and the rest of Asia, at a time when skiing is declining in popularity among Japanese.

According to the 2014 white paper on leisure published by the Japan Productivity Center, revenues from lift and gondola rides at Japanese ski resorts have recovered to 57 billion yen (US$475 million) in 2013, up 2 per cent on the year, after hitting bottom in 2011.

But some point to the need to provide safety guidance to a growing number of foreign skiers to prevent accidents.

International ski resort Niseko Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu in Hokkaido saw visitor numbers in December 2014 through January 2015 increase by 5 per cent on the year to 244,000.

The number of foreign guests at 10 major hotels in the area rose by 20 per cent on the year in December to 69,000. An official at Hotel Niseko Alpen said that foreigners account for 30 per cent of its guests, with Australians making up the largest number, followed by Asians.

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