THE Sunburnt Country be damned! It seems Australian’s can’t get enough of the cold white stuff.

An increasing amount of evidence suggests that more Australians are taking snowy winter breaks more than at any time in our holidaying history.

Somewhat ironic, don’t you think, given all the talk of Global Warming, but hard to dispute when you consider the facts.

For example, fresh figures shows Aussies spent 348,520 guest nights in NZ ski hub Queenstown this year, 30% up on 2006.

Australian ski resorts also reported a strong 2007 off the back of a great early falls, while in all probability Japan will welcome a record number of Aussie skiers and boarders this 07/08 season.

North American resorts always do well when the Aussie dollar is as strong as it is now, and Europe may even see a few Australians with a couple of good  November storms prompting an outburst of optimism and headlines such as “Something Strange is happening at Europe’s Ski Resorts – It’s snowing”.

Good luck to the operators there but the likely reality is that European market share of the Aussie ski dollar will continue to dwindle with fewer Australians making the long trek to the likes of Verbier, St Anton and Chamonix.

Japan and Canada are the big winners these days as they are less expensive and more reliable; New Zealand is also increasingly popular.

NZ officials admit last season’s great snowfalls (contrasting with a very poor 2006 in Australia) were a major reason for this year’s boost in Aussie ski nights, which came despite ordinary skiing during the peak months.

“The challenge for 2008 will be to maintain this Australian preference for Queenstown over Australian skifields following not such a strong snow year* this year,” Destination Queenstown CEO David Kennedy said.

Japan visitors were also up but Queenstown faces challenges in other key markets, particularly NZ domestic, which fell 2% to around 250,000 visitor nights.

That’s laughable, around 90,000 room nights less than the Aussies.

Kiwis might have a lot of passports but for some reason they don’t want see an amazing slice of their own country.

Go figure.

NB: For those of you new to the ski industry, “not such a strong snow year” is industry-speak for “it was really bad but I can’t tell you that”.

Travel Trends: December 17, 2007

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