French resort operator Club Med, a subsidiary of China’s Fosun Tourism Group, is pushing ahead with plans to capitalise on China’s ambitions of becoming a skiing superpower. These include developing a ski promotion and tourism system in China that will let Club Med and Fosun gather data to promote their growing network of mountain ski resorts to Chinese outbound tourists. After Beijing won the right to host the Winter Olympics in 2022 , President Xi Jinping announced his desire to have 300 million Chinese snow enthusiasts on the slopes in time for the showcase. Sebastien Portes, strategic director for Asian mountain at Club Med, said the national focus on skiing and winter sports was a golden opportunity. Club Med currently operates 50 beach resorts and 20 mountain ski resorts, but Portes said that, amid aggressive global expansion, there will be an equal number of ski and beach resort openings over the next few years. Skiing holidays are more profitable for the company than beach resorts, he said. Ski holidaymakers at Club Med resorts tend to stay an average of seven days and spend more money compared with the average 4.5 day stay at a Club Med beach resort. “It’s a very healthy business,” Portes said of the ski tourism industry. “We believe it’s critical to accelerate at this moment in our development of the [ski] mountain industry.” China has its work cut out reaching Xi’s target. In the South Korean Winter Olympics of 2018, South Korea claimed 17 medals against China’s nine, while medal count winner Norway had 39. In 2014, China claimed nine medals and in 2010, 11. As of 2019, less than 1 per cent of the Chinese population has tried skiing, according to media reports. Portes said that more than 80 per cent of all Chinese people who try skiing will never do it again. To help encourage skiing, there are now 30 indoor snow centres in China, including five that came up in the past year, according to Snow Forecast, a ski news website, more than any other country. In June this year, the world’s second-largest indoor ski dome opened in Guangzhou , with the world’s largest in Harbin . Both are owned by Chinese property giant Sunac. In August last year, Singaporean property developer KOP Properties announced plans to build the world’s largest indoor ski facility in Shanghai, expected to be completed in 2022. Meanwhile, Fosun is working with French ski resort operator Compagne des Alpes to build its own large indoor ski resort near Shanghai, at an estimated cost of 2.4 billion yuan (US$335.7 million). Club Med has initiated a number of programmes aimed at encouraging and gathering data on potential skiers in China. The company has launched a programme of French-style ski instruction at China’s ski schools, many of whose instructors aren’t qualified, Portes said. “China is the lab” for these experiments, he said, adding that Club Med and Fosun were also looking at developing ski simulators. “It [China] is where we want to test synergies, create links and then expand worldwide.” Club Med operates four ski resorts in Asia, two in China and two in Japan. More ski resorts are to be opened in China and, according to Portes, one a year in the European Alps. To pay for such expansion, Club Med has adopted a property leaseback system similar to that used by airlines and shipping companies, in which properties are sold to developers and then leased back to Club Med. Portes estimated that the cost of developing a luxury ski resort was about US$130 million, compared with US$30-40 million for a luxury beach resort. The goal is to migrate well-to-do Chinese skiers from Chinese resorts to Club Med ski resorts in Japan and finally to Europe. Portes confirmed the company was trying to persuade China Eastern and Cathay Pacific to open direct routes to Switzerland and Lyon in France. Apart from skiing, Club Med was also developing a new series of weekend getaway properties within three hours’ drive from China’s tier 1 cities, that would double as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions properties on weekdays. Three are now in operation, and Portes said Club Med would open two or three more per year. Fosun, Club Med and US toy company Mattel are also partnering on developing “miniversities”: education and day care centres for children located in shopping malls, where Club Med will operate kids’ clubs and gather yet more data, Portes said. Club Med’s revenue rose 5 per cent in the first half of 2019 compared with 2018, climbing to 6.9 billion yuan, according to Fosun’s 2019 interim report. The ski business now accounts for just under a quarter of its revenue, although Fosun was certainly hoping to increase that by 2022.