Skier visits statewide slide downhill modestly
Skier visits throughout Colorado are down a modest 5.9 percent this season, a positive sign for a luxury activity in a weak economy, an industry trade group reported Thursday.
“Skiing is falling on the ‘necessity’ side of the ledger for most participants, who may be economizing in many areas of their lives but not when it comes to ski days,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA.
Although the organization did not release numbers for specific resorts, the decrease is in line with what industry officials had predicted for the season and still put Colorado Ski Country’s 22 resorts on a pace similar to the 2004-05 winter.
“The fact that resort visits are down only slightly from last year reaffirms the historic resilience of those who ski here in Colorado,” Mills said.
On Wednesday, Vail Resorts — which dropped out of the trade organization last year — reported skier visits were down at Keystone by 9.8 percent and at Breckenridge by 1.7 percent.
But visits were up 9 percent at Vail and 7.2 percent at Beaver Creek, which officials attributed to the Epic Pass, which for the first time offered unlimited skiing — with no blackout dates — at a relatively low price for season-pass holders primarily coming from the Front Range.
Still, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz acknowledged that skiers and snowboarders this season are spending far less on “ancillary” purchases such as ski lessons and on-mountain meals.
The resorts remaining in Colorado Ski Country indicated that many visitors are waiting until the last minute to book their vacations, seeking out bargains, according to organization spokeswoman Jennifer Rudolph.
Last winter, resorts statewide tallied 12.5 million skier-days, just off the record set in 2006-07.