Now that Steamboat has closed for the season, only Loveland and Arapahoe Basin hang on to a ski season to which many are all too happy to say good riddance. With Colorado’s snowpack half its normal level, skier visits were down around 7 percent before a record dry March effectively killed the season.
Final state and national skier visit numbers will not be available until June. But the expected decline is an 8 percent to 10 percent decrease in visits, which are levels that have not been seen by the state’s 26 resorts to levels since the 1990s.
Nationally it looks like the ski industry will drop more than 15 percent, with visits plunging to near 50 million for the first time in 20 years. Michael Berry, president of the 321-resort National Ski Areas Association,
compared the nearly 10 million-visit drop nationwide to the season of 1980-81, when a dearth of snow in the Northeast, California and central Rockies rocked the industry.
The value of a skier visits is hard to determine, ranging in worth from a few bucks from the ski-area local to several thousand from the destination vacationer who stays in a luxury hotel and books private lessons. Boulder research firm RRC Associates’ annual Snowsports Economic Analysis Report showed revenue per visit at resorts in the Rocky Mountain region was $84.51 in 2010-11.
Net income for ski-industry giant Vail Resorts’ fiscal second quarter, which ended in January, dropped 15 percent on a 5.5 percent fall in revenues.
The tourist industry is the second largest industry in the state, and it is in large part comprised of skiing. A steep decline in skier visits has impact on the entire state economy.