>> China is going the extra mile to push winter sports ahead of the next Winter Games, Beijing 2022. This is Thaiwoo Ski Resort. It's set to host some of the events, but is just one of many popping up across the country's north. Local governments are trying to get out of heavy industry and into services, and also cash in on a more affluent middle class keen to ski.
It's a top down push too. By 2020, President Xi Jinping has pledged to get some 300 million Chinese on skis and skates ahead of the Winter Games. It may be working. Ski trips were up 16% last year to China's now 700 ski resorts. However, as Reuters' Elias Glenn explains, experts worry many may head downhill after Beijing 2022.
>> The market is still dominated by very beginner and first-time skiers. Operators say about 80 to 90% of the skiers are first-time skiers or are very much beginners that may come once a year. So the challenge for them is, how do they convert them to more stable and long-term customers that will come back multiple times every year?
That's currently one of the biggest challenges.>> And as for Beijing itself, the capital isn't naturally bordered by snowy white slopes.>> There are a lot of challenges that people in the industry will mention. One is that there's a lack of natural snow in places like Beijing, which is the biggest market currently.
So all the ski resorts around Beijing most rely on man made snow every night, which is a high cost. And costs in other areas are also increasing in terms of salaries and environmental standard costs and different costs like that are also getting higher, which puts pressure on profits for the ski resorts.
>> Another challenge, a lack of qualified instructors. To boost interest, ski training companies are being set up, with resorts inviting ski instructors from the west. The rush to build slopes has raised concerns about investment misfires that experts tell Reuters could hold back the sport in China.