Colorado Ski Country reports skier visits are up this season
DENVER – The trade group that represents the state’s ski areas reported Friday that skier visits were up almost 8 percent from the previous year through the end of February.
Colorado Ski Country USA said more than 7.75 million skiers and snowboarders visited ski areas between the beginning of the season and Feb. 28. More than 4.8 million of those visits came in January and February.
The report also said that Front Range resorts showed more growth than destination resorts.
Skier visits are used to track participation in the sport and as an indicator for tourism and other related aspects of the economy.
Officials at the trade group, which represents 24 of Colorado’s ski areas, said good early-season snow and healthy snow supplements last month benefitted the ski business.
“Looking forward, March is traditionally our busiest month and sees the best snowfall of the year,” said Colorado Ski Country USA president and chief executive officer Rob Perlman. “An important part of our season is still ahead of us, the traditional Spring Break time period, that will ultimately determine how strong the season-end totals will be.”
Colorado Ski Country USA doesn’t break down the skier visits by individual resorts at this point in the season. Final skier visit numbers for each resort will be released at the association’s June 12 meeting.
Resort corporations’ quarterly reports give only a minor hint at how ski areas are faring locally. Intrawest’s second-quarter earnings report, issued last month, said same-resort skier visits were up 20 percent. Vail Resorts issued its second-quarter earnings report Wednesday, saying the company’s Colorado resorts showed a 4.9 percent increase in skier visits over the same period last year.
Further information in the VR quarterly report showed that Eagle County ski areas are gaining visitors, while Summit County’s are flat or declining. Vail showed a 9.5 percent increase in skiers through Jan. 31, Beaver Creek a 19.3 percent increase. Keystone was down 1.8 percent over the same quarter last year and Breckenridge was off .3 percent.
Colorado Ski Country USA spokeswoman Kristin Rust said the second period of skier visit measurement (January and February) is typically the slowest of the year. She said the recent snowfall in Colorado will help ski towns maintain momentum into the spring.
“We were fortunate this year that we had good momentum from the beginning of the season and it’s carried through,” Rust said. “And spring has great events, great deals, and there’s still snow – we’re hoping the energy continues.”
The ski industry will likely benefit from the state’s budget for tourism. Last month, Gov. Bill Owens agreed to a record $10 million line item for the Colorado Tourism Office.
Rust said Colorado Ski Country USA is working with the tourism office and that winter is a big portion of the state’s marketing efforts, but it isn’t clear at this time how much ski areas will benefit from the tourism campaign.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or email@example.com.
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