FIS'S TOURISM GOAL

25.05.2012

Persuading the public that they should be spending their holidays on the piste rather than the beach can be a tough task.

However, to safeguard the future of winter sports, Gian Franco Kasper, President of Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS), the International Ski Federation, knows it is a challenge that cannot be ignored.

The head of the FIS is attempting to convince winter sports resorts to become more accessible to a broader demographic by making holiday packages more affordable.

"Winter sports tourism is a big challenge," he said.
"Races are an instrument to promote winter tourism, but with cheap flights to the Caribbean and warmer places, where there are guaranteed weather conditions, leisure skiers can be attracted elsewhere. Owing to that, the prices have to be realistic at winter sports destinations."

One of the FIS's leading campaigns, 'Bring Children to the Snow', is a multi-year campaign that was created five years ago to attract more youngsters to the slopes. For Kasper, the focus on youth is important if future generations of skiers are to emerge.

"We have to do something for the next generation," he said. "Children up to the age of 12 need to be able to get interested in skiing and they can only do that if some of the resorts lower their prices."

The Winter Olympics acts as a crucial hook for new skiing fans and Kasper was complimentary about preparations for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. He is also excited about the prospect of the 2018 edition being staged in the new market of South Korea, when Pyeongchang stages the Games. 

"Sochi has had to start from scratch and develop things, but I believe it will be an excellent Games," he said. "Several test events have taken place there and they have all worked well. A lot always depends on being lucky with the conditions, but we have no doubts.

"Russia is a huge market and South Korea will be very interesting too."
Looking to the future, Kasper is hoping to see the 2022 Winter Olympics return to St. Moritz-Davos in Switzerland.

In 1948, as a two-year-old, the Winter Games came to his hometown of St. Moritz, although Kasper confesses he was too young to remember the action.

"The National Olympic Committee still needs to make a decision on whether to bid. It would be nice to bring the Games back, but of course it would not be easy to win the bid," he said.