Colorado skier visits drop 8 percent through December
Aspen CO, Colorado
DENVER ” Colorado’s ski industry is off to a tough start this winter with skier visits down 7.7 percent through December compared to last season, a state trade association reported Friday.
Colorado Ski Country USA didn’t detail the number of people who hit the slopes for the first reporting period, from Oct. 15 through Dec. 31.
The statewide drop is nearly identical to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s business at the start of the season. The Skico’s skier and rider visits at its four ski areas were down 7.3 percent from Thanksgiving through Dec. 31, according to spokesman Jeff Hanle. Skico officials acknowledged before the start of the season that it will be a tough winter. They expect a drop in skier and rider visits between 5 and 15 percent.
Colorado Ski Country has 22 member ski resorts in the state. Its figures don’t include the New Year’s holiday weekend, which began Thursday, Jan. 1. Some resorts experienced “high, and in some cases, record volumes of guests,” according to a Ski Country press release.
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The figures also omit Vail Resorts’ four Colorado ski areas ” Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. Vail Resorts pulled out of Colorado Ski Country last year in a dispute over marketing direction. Vail Resorts reported its skier visits were down 6 percent through Jan. 4.
Colorado Ski Country officials tried to put a positive spin on the early-season figures. The organization noted that skier and rider visits were down for the first period last season but that 2007-08 evolved into the second-best ever.
Ski Country President and CEO Melanie Mills said business during the first period this season exceeded expectations even if it was down. The trade association also expressed hope that excellent snow conditions will draw customers throughout the season. There was record snowfall at Silverton, Crested Butte and Telluride in December, the organization said. Aspen and Snowmass also were blessed with copious snowfall last month. Aspen Mountain recorded 97 inches of snow in December 2008, compared to 98 inches in the same month in 2007.
Skier and rider visits are the standard used to track the industry’s business. A visit represents one person skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort.
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