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Travel & Leisure

Japan's skiing industry hits bumpy patch

International visitor numbers surge even as domestic demand flags

Foreign visitors enjoy the slopes in Hakuba Valley, in central Japan's Nagano prefecture. (Courtesy of Evergreen International Ski School)

TOKYO -- With their fine powder snow, hot springs and scenic vistas, Japan's international ski destinations, buoyed by pent-up demand and yen weakness, are booming following a COVID-19-induced slumber lasting more than two years.

The current season, which began in December, marks the revival of a trend that began in the late 1990s, when Japan's popularity as an international destination began to grow even as its domestic ski industry suffered steep declines. But after an extended border closure, which kept foreigners out until Oct. 11, 2022, resorts are now scrambling to accommodate incoming visitors, having whittled down services due to lack of staff.

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