Texas big on state ski slopes, but California king in Aspen
Howdy, y’all. The image of an obnoxious Texan invading Colorado’s ski slopesis one that has played well over the years. Results of a new surveyby the state ski areas’ trade association show it’s at least halfright. Texas remains the biggest out-of-state market for Colorado’s skiindustry, according to a study by Colorado Ski Country USA. Texas proved it’s big by producing 8.3 percent of the state’sskier and rider visits last season, according to Ski Country’ssurvey of member resorts. Florida was a distant second, supplying 4.6 percent of visits.California, Illinois and New York were the next biggest out-of-statemarkets, each supplying between 3 and 4 percent of customer visits.Colorado Ski Country recently released the results of its annualdemographic survey. It examines everything from places of originand household incomes to skill levels among visiting skiers. Overall, skiers and riders from the United States, but outsideColorado, accounted for almost 59 percent of the state ski areas’business. In-state skiers compromised about one-third of the Colorado resorts’market, while international travelers supplied about 8 percentof all customer visits. California king in AspenThe Aspen Skiing Co. shares the same key states as Colorado’sski industry overall, but in a different order. Texas is big,but California is king. California has been the biggest domestic supplier of skiers andriders for at least a decade, according to Kitty Boone, Skicovice president of marketing. The image of hordes of Texans pouring onto Aspen’s slopes hasnever really been accurate. “I think it’s true in people’s minds,” she said, noting that Texans’accents make them stick out and their numbers seem greater. “Ithink that drove that [perception] more than anything.” The stereotype of Aspen as Los Angeles-West is more accurate.The Skico’s on-mountain surveys for last season show Californiasupplied 13 percent of Aspen’s out-of-state, U.S. skiers and riders.New York provided the next-biggest market share with about 7 percent.Illinois, Florida and Texas were virtually tied at about 6 percent.”We’ll see the numbers bounce around because of air service,”said Bobbie Burkley, Skico director of marketing. The number ofTexans jumped, for example, when Lone Star flew direct flightsto Aspen a few seasons ago. More overseas businessThe four local ski areas also combine to attract a greater percentageof foreign travelers than the state ski industry as a whole. Internationaltravelers comprise about 20 percent of the Skico’s customers visits,compared to 8 percent for Colorado Ski Country members. Domestic travelers outside of Colorado supply about 69 percentof the Skico’s business, compared to 60 percent for the stateski areas collectively. But the Skico’s four mountains – Aspen Mountain, Highlands, Buttermilkand Snowmass – collect fewer visits from within Colorado thanthe industry as a whole. In-state skiers and riders account for about 11 percent of theSkico’s lift ticket sales, excluding season passes, accordingto Burkley. That compares to about 33 percent of lift ticket salesto in-state residents for all Ski Country members. Access is the key to the difference. The Summit County resorts,Winter Park and even Vail depend much more on Colorado Front Rangecustomers than places like Aspen, Crested Butte and Telluride.Foreign affairsJust as the domestic leaders varied between Aspen and the stateski industry, so did leading foreign markets. The Skico’s strongest markets were, in order, Australia, Brazil,Germany, Argentina and the United Kingdom, according to Burkley.Colorado Ski Country’s five big markets were, in order, the UnitedKingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany and Mexico. Another big difference was the change in market share. The AspenSkiing Co. pulled in more foreign travelers during the 1997-98season while the state’s numbers overall dropped. “The 1997-98 decline in international visitation appears to havebeen relatively widespread, with declines noted in Europe, Centraland South America, Canada and Australia/New Zealand/Asia,” saidSki Country’s report. Both Colorado Ski Country and the Skico survey customers to adjustmarketing efforts and alter services.
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Colorado has been hit with a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, with one in 41 residents believed to be contagious. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned during a virtual news conference that Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.