• Kyodo

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Japan’s southernmost ski resort plans to operate for another winter despite the continuing downtrend in guests.

Gokase Highland Ski & Snowboard in Miyazaki Prefecture managed to improve business performance by cutting costs last season, which ended March 5, but customers fell to an all-time low of around 32,000.

“We have received letters and calls of support as well as donations from across the country. We will do our utmost to protect this precious ski resort in southern Kyushu,” Gokase Mayor Shumpei Harada said.

The Kyushu resort, run by Gokase Highland Ltd. and funded by the town, has been struggling with a lack of snow and the downtrend in skiers in recent years.

Before opening last season, the town announced it would close the ski resort unless 40,000 or more people visited. Although the operator launched a campaign to attract visitors, the resort fell short by around 8,000.

But the resort succeeded in trimming its deficit to around ¥1.88 million ($17,000) by reducing operations by 20 days in a period with less snow, and through other measures. It was able to obtain the local assembly’s endorsement to stay in business as well.

Given that the past season was seemingly affected by the earthquakes in April 2016 that damaged neighboring Kumamoto and its vicinity, Harada said the town could put the resort back in the black next season and even stabilize its management over the long haul.