State skier visits on the rebound
Colorado’s ski industry roared back with a vengeance from a rocky start to last season by posting a 29 percent increase in skier visits through December, according to a state trade association.
Colorado Ski Country USA reported Thursday that statewide skier visits totaled 2,829,154 through the end of December – up 637,709 visits from last season.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. About 90 percent of the terrain at Colorado resorts was open during Christmas this season. Only about 60 percent was open last season, according to Colorado Ski Country.
“We are extremely pleased with the way the season is progressing,” said David Perry, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country, in a prepared statement. “Substantial early-season snowfall throughout the entire state coupled with aggressive marketing by the resorts placed Colorado at the top of vacationers’ lists.”
The trade association doesn’t release figures for individual resorts, but breaks its 25 members into three categories – destination resorts, Front Range destination resorts, and Front Range resorts.
Destination resorts – which include the Skico’s four mountains – logged a 37 percent increase in overall skier and snowboard rider visits compared to last season.
In addition to Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk, the destination resorts include Crested Butte, Monarch, Powderhorn, Purgatory, Steamboat, Sunlight and Telluride.
The Aspen Skiing Co. said its season-to-date figure at the end of December was also around a 37 percent increase. That figure includes locals’ use of season passes and Skico employee pass use.
The company also tracks lift tickets sales – a more accurate gauge of tourist business, according to Skico Chief Operating Officer John Norton. The Skico disclosed earlier this week that lift ticket sales – excluding local pass and employee pass use – were up 19 percent through December at its four mountains.
Front Range destination resorts – which rely on a combination of travelers and day skiers from Denver – logged a 29 percent increase in skier visits through December. Those resorts are Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper, Keystone, Silver Creek, Vail and Winter Park.
The Front Range resorts of Berthoud Pass, Loveland and Ski Cooper were flat compared to last season, when they were the only resorts in the state with good early-season snow and strong numbers.
The first part of this season not only stacks up well against last season’s mediocre results, it also compares favorably to the five-season average, according to Colorado Ski Country. Skier visits are up 7 percent over the five-year average.
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