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Bringing ethnic diversity to the slopes

Targeting the non-white population to cultivate a new market of skiers and snowboarders

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If Canada’s ski industry doesn’t get serious about reaching out to the emerging minority population, it’s uncertain just who will be skiing and snowboarding in 2020.

The issue is on the radar screen of many of the major players in North America’s ski business. A summary report of the CSC State of the Industry Workshop projected that our current annual "19.1 million skier/rider visits will drop to 15.5 million by 2018/2019 if interventions are not taken to retain the Baby Boomers and focus on the strong ethnic mix of Generation Y (13-19 year olds)."

During the Canadian Ski Council’s Symposium held last April at Sun Peaks resort, National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) President Michael Berry announced plans to place a new emphasis on strategies aimed at increasing minority participation at America’s ski hills and confirmed that diversity was going to be a major theme at the NSAA Annual Conference in Savannah, Georgia last May.

More recently, the first ever summit on snow sports diversity was held in Steamboat resort in Colorado on Feb. 2. The summit was to come up with a list of best practices to attract minority groups to the sport, and initiatives that create a buzz about skiing/riding in minority communities.

Spearheading the summit, was North America’s leading authority on snow sports diversity, Roberto Moreno, He’s the president and executive director of Alpino, a Denver-based non-profit organization he founded five years ago to increase minority participation in snow sports and mountain recreation.

Moreno laughs, when he’s described as North America’s leading authority on minorities in snow sports. "I guess that proves the point that there simply aren’t enough people working on the issue of white homogeneity in the snow sports business"

While Moreno is concerned about the lack of ethnicity on the slopes he’s optimistic about the future. "The most significant result of the summit was agreement on the O.R.E strategy, the acronym stands for Outreach Recruitment and Enlightenment."

Enlightenment

The ski industry is facing serious changes as greying baby boomers begin to phase out of skiing. The echo boom population that has to replace the baby boomers in no way resembles the children from the Sound of Music, but for some reason that is what most people look like in typical ski industry marketing material.

It’s commonly assumed that if you're a person of colour chances are you have no heritage of mountain recreation and the mountains might seem like a distant and irrelevant experience, thus you're more likely to spend your time on urban-based activities and your dollars on consumer goods.

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