Where skiers go to splurge or save

February 28, 2024 | By Natalia Lechmanova
The global ski industry is one part of the experience economy that tailors its offerings to a wide spectrum of consumers. Whether you’re a budget or luxury traveller, an experienced Alpine skier seeking out black runs or a casual skier focused on the apres-ski scene, there’s a ski resort to suit your needs.

Consumers have shown a consistent demand for experiences since the pandemic, particularly in the travel sector, and skiing has benefitted from that continuing trend.

According to the Mastercard Economics Institute’s outlook report for 2024, the empowered consumer is beginning to enjoy increased purchasing power, thanks to falling inflation and interest rates, as that helps to ease the cost-of-living crisis and mortgage squeeze. As consumers increase discretionary spending, spending on experiences like skiing may increase too.

So, where can you find the best luxury experiences? What about budget-friendly ones across the globe? [1] Using Mastercard aggregated and anonymized insights, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also identified more international destinations and others frequented mostly by locals. Read on to find out more.

The priciest destinations are Switzerland, Austria and the US:

  • Average spend per transaction [2] in ski locations in those countries is above 110€, in line with their economies’ elevated income and price levels – undoubtedly ticket sizes will vary across the season with peaks around Christmas and New Year’s Day and school holidays.
  • Swiss ski resorts see the highest average ticket for restaurants 69€ , and Austrian resorts see the highest average spending per transaction for accommodations 460€ [3] .


The most luxurious resort is Courchevel, but here are others:

  • Courchevel in the French Alps is heads above the rest for average spending in hotels, restaurants and all merchant categories combined.
  • American resorts including Aspen (Colorado), Big Sky (Montana), Vail (Colorado) and Park City (Utah) also feature among the top average spending for hospitality, as do St. Moritz, Zermatt and Crans-Montana in Switzerland and Stubaier Gletscher and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl in Austria.


The most affordable ski resorts are in the Republic of Georgia , Australia and Poland:

  • Average spend per transaction is below 37€, consistent with low relative price levels in Georgia and Poland.
  • In Australia, low snowfall limited spending this past ski season but this could change in the upcoming season.
  • Japanese ski resorts stand out with the fourth-lowest average spending per transaction globally at hotels 171€. That’s surprising relative to Japan’s elevated income levels and partly reflects the weakness of the yen, which makes spending more affordable in dollar terms.


For those looking to enjoy skiing on a budget, we recommend:

  • Bakuriani in Georgia and Szczyrk in Poland, which have among the lowest average spending globally.
  • But deals can be found even in countries that are typically pricier:
  • France is home to pricey Courchevel but also features ski resorts with lower average spending, such as Les Deux Alpes.
  • Italy has several ski resorts with lower average spending than many of its European peers, including Ponte di Legno/Tonale, Sauze d'Oulx, Sestriere.


Global ski fanatics flock to Austria, France and Switzerland, cementing the Alps as the most popular ski region in the world:

  • French and Swiss resorts tend to be the top global destinations for tourists originating outside Europe.
  • Ischgl in Austria saw the highest foreign tourist spend by a significant margin this ski season , reflecting their massive ski area, reliable snowfall and festive après-ski scene.
  • European tourists tend to favour resorts in neighbouring countries – the Spanish may head to France while the Germans may go to Austria.


What about the snow?

  • In the Northern Hemisphere, disappointing snow cover has disrupted ski seasons over the past decade or so. This is in line with a longer-term trend of rising temperatures and decreased snow cover across the world.
  • In Eurasia, strong starts to the winter snowfall (November and December) have not been maintained into January and February, cutting ski seasons short forcing ski resorts to close earlier than usual.
  • On the other hand, North America will be hoping that the winter snowfall is late rather than absent altogether this winter, as the snow cover to start this ski season has been poor by historical standards.


1 The ski seasons covered in this blog are July-September 2023 for the southern hemisphere and November 2023-January 2024 for the northern hemisphere. We analyzed the data for January-March 2023 to capture the US west coast ski season and the trends are broadly similar to those shown in this blog.

2 Average spend per transaction in US dollars for cross-country comparison.

3 Average ticket is both a function of price and quantity of goods/services purchased and is not a direct guide of prices. A card purchase could be for multiple people/hotel nights/meals.

Photo of Natalia Lechmanova
Natalia Lechmanova, Chief Economist Europe, Mastercard

About the Mastercard Economics Institute

Mastercard Economics Institute launched in 2020 to analyze macroeconomic trends through the lens of the consumer. A team of economists, analysts and data scientists draws on Mastercard insights — including Mastercard SpendingPulse™ — and third-party data to deliver regular reporting on economic issues for key customers, partners and policymakers.

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