Good snow does not always a great ski season make. Skier visits, overnight lodging occupancy and room rates have all taken a downhill plunge this year, prompting the industry to examine how to win back travelers when the economy improves.

snowmtn.jpgSkier visits nationally are expected to be down for the 2008-09 season. Early estimates by Mountain Travel Research Program are for between 54 million and 57 million skier visits, at least a 5 percent drop from the 2007-08 season record of 60.5 million. The latest report released by MTRP showed the national average daily lodging rate was down 8.6 percent in February compared with the same period last year. And the total occupancy for the 2008-09 season is expected to be down 16.3 percent. Statewide estimates aren’t yet available.
More than 900 ski-industry leaders are gathered in Keystone this week for the 2009 Mountain Travel Symposium.
Perhaps in response to the slow season, Aspen Skiing Co. on Wednesday said it will reopen Aspen Highlands for two bonus weekends later this month. Highlands, which will close this Sunday, will reopen April 18-19 and April 25-26. A series of spring storms has pushed the base depth in Highland Bowl to more than 100 inches — the deepest it has been all season.

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