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Ski Resorts Anticipate Slow Recovery

Ski Resorts Anticipate Slow Recovery

[ Thu, 2010-04-15 13:05 ]
ski resorts cautious
It’s not a boom, but it’s no bust either. Early attendance numbers provide a glimmer of hope to struggling ski resorts.

Many people have bemoaned recent signs foretelling the impending death of the ski industry. First, environmentalists predicted that global warming will melt both the polar ice caps and our mountain snow caps by the end of the century. Next, market experts forecasted a devastating decrease in the number of skiers as baby boomers age. And then last season, resort attendance fell to a new low: 57.3 million visits, down from 60.5 million during the 2007–2008 season, according to the National Ski Areas Association. 

But early numbers from this season suggest the situation may be improving, albeit slowly.

Aspen Skiing Company is reporting a slight increase in skier visits for the early 2009–2010 season at its four resorts. Aspen's Senior Vice President David Perry says that although the numbers are encouraging, the company isn't celebrating just yet. Official skier-visit numbers for the entire season will be released in June.

Resorts in California, however, do have a reason to celebrate. Due to a terrific snow season, the Golden State is reporting some of its best numbers in years: 7.5 million visits to resorts in the Sierra Nevada mountains, up from 6.7 million visits last year and more than the five-year average of 7.4 million, according to the California Ski Industry Association.

Revenue from sales of ski apparel and gear appears to be rising as well. The SnowSports Industry Association (SIA) reported snow sports market sales reached 2.7 billion in February, a three-percent gain over last year. However, most of that increase is due to higher prices rather than more individual sales of ski/snowboard gear.