The 22 ski areas using U.S. Forest Service land paid the federal government a record $17.9 million for the 2012-2013 ski season, The Denver Post reports. Visits to Colorado ski areas climbed only 4 percent between 2011-12 and 2012-13, but resorts hosting those visits saw revenues grow at least 9 percent in the same period.
The amount paid to the U.S. Forest service for 2012-2013 rent is $1 million more than the previous record, for the 2007-2008 ski season, and 28 percent more over a 12-year average. Rent for ski resort operators on federal forest land pay the Forest Service in revenue-based rent. The money isn’t due until a year after the ski season ends, so the payments for the just-ended 2013-2014 season won’t come due until next year.
The recession had an impact on the ski industry. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, visits fell almost 6 percent from a high of $12.5 million in 2007-2008, revenues plummeted 12 percent. The 2012-13 ski season saw Colorado resorts rebound, collecting record revenues from ski guests.
Vail Resorts, the country’s largest ski-resort operator whose four Colorado hills — Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone — account for roughly a third of the state’s skier traffic, has seen ancillary spending jump in the past two seasons. The company reported a 7.5 percent increase in ski lessons, a 3.1 percent increase in dining and a 5.1 percent increase in retail and rental revenues in the 2013-14 ski season. Vail paid the Forest Service $10.55 million of revenue-based rent for its Colorado hills in 2012-13, up from $9.68 million the previous season.
And the future keeps getting brighter ski area operators with revenue from summer activities also growing significantly the past few years. Events such as Vail’s GoPro Mountain Games, Beaver Creek’s Tough Mudder, Monarch’s USA Pro Challenge and Colorado Free-ride Festival in Winter Park have improved summer revenues, and an increase in rent payments to the government.