International visitation on the rise in Aspen, Snowmass

Aspen Snowmass targeted international business this year

International visitation has returned in Aspen, just as Aspen Skiing Co. had hoped, in the early days of the season.

At the Afternoon Blend and ACRA Tourism Outlook event in November, Skico identified international guests as a focus for the season. Typically, international visitation is high in January, and Skico Vice President of Communications Jeff Hanle said it has been consistently strong up to this point.

“We’re seeing really strong visitation from the return of Australia and Brazil, which are our two biggest international markets,” he said, adding that there is also strong visitation from Mexico, Argentina, and other Latin American markets.

Although the holidays this year were not the strongest Skico has ever seen, really big ski days made up for the softness in occupancy, he said.

Dec. 29 was a record day for Skico, where they recorded roughly 22,000 visits across Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. According to Hanle, Snowmass always has the most visitation and makes up about 50% of the visits on a given big day. The other three mountains split the rest, and, while it varies day to day, Ajax typically comes in second.

As of Dec. 31, January is beginning the month up 8.6%, thanks to the return of international business, X Games Aspen opening back up to spectators, and a successful Gay Ski Week, the January 2023 Occupancy Report and Executive Summary states.

Aspen’s paid-occupancy rate for January is at 69.5%, up from last year’s 62.6%. Snowmass is sitting at 68.7% paid occupancy for January, up from 64.8% in 2022.

December occupancy in Snowmass was down 13% from last year, at 48.7%. Aspen ended with a 61.6% paid-occupancy rate, compared to 63.1% in 2021.

“December started the month behind 10.7% and made up some ground in the month, ending down 7.9%,” the report states.

According to the report, December has been pacing behind all year for Aspen Snowmass and competitors alike.

Occupancy for the winter season, which spans from November to April, is down 1.7% from last year. As of Dec. 31, winter was sitting at 47.9% compared to 48.7% at this time last year.

“Early season, late season, and peak holiday weeks are dragging us behind, while January, February, and March are all pacing up,” the report reads.

The January 2023 Occupancy Report and Executive Summary is part of the greater collaboration between the Aspen Skiing Company, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and Snowmass Tourism.