Colorado skier visits drop in 2011-12 |

Colorado skier visits drop in 2011-12

DENVER – Skier visits plummeted by 790,000, or 11.4 percent, in 2011-12 compared with the prior season at the 22 resorts in Colorado that belong to a state trade association, according to an announcement Wednesday.

Colorado Ski Country USA said its members racked up 6.16 million visits for the season, which was plagued by a lack of snowfall. The Western Slope of Colorado experienced its third-driest and seventh-warmest winter since 1895. It was an “uninspiring” winter, said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, in a prepared statement.

“Much of the ski industry in the U.S. was confronted with weather challenges last year, but several of our resorts bucked the national trend and showed signs of resilience during what was clearly an uninspiring winter,” Miller said.

When estimating business at the four Colorado ski areas operated by Vail Resorts, Ski Country calculated Colorado’s statewide skier visits at 11,010,584, or down nearly 10 percent, compared with the prior season. That is a decrease of 1,195,000 skier visits for the state’s ski industry.

Vail Resorts doesn’t belong to Colorado Ski Country USA because of differences of opinions over marketing strategies.

The Denver-based National Ski Areas Association estimates business was down 15.7 percent nationwide and 7.2 percent in the Rocky Mountain region. There were 51 million skier visits at ski areas across the country.

By those metrics, Aspen Skiing Co. logged a decent season. Its business was down 1.8 percent. Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk combined for about 1.33 million skier visits, according to Skico.

Colorado’s ski areas were hurt this season because in-state residents stayed off the slopes. Destination business from domestic visitors outside Colorado and from overseas visitors was strong, according to Colorado Ski Country. Mountain-town residents and Front Range dwellers didn’t hit the slopes as often.

Colorado Ski Country said its numbers are preliminary results that are subject to final adjustments by the resorts.

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