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June 22, 2009

Utah Resorts See Drop of 6.5% Year Over Year in Skier Visits (h/t First Tracks)

From First Tracks Online:

Salt Lake City, UT - Ski Utah reported today that skier visits at its 13 member resorts were down 6.5% year over year in 2008-09. A record season in 2007-08, however, meant that 2008-09 was nonetheless the state's fourth best ski and snowboard season on record.

A total of 3,972,984 skier days made business during the 2008-09 ski season busier than any in Utah prior to 2005. The 2008-09 winter breaks a string of five consecutive record ski seasons in Utah, and in fact nine of the busiest ski seasons in the state's history have occurred within the past decade. A skier day is generated by one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night for the purpose of skiing.

Nationally, total skier visits were down 5.5 percent to just over 57 million skier days from the previous year’s all time record of 60.1 million skier days, according to a preliminary survey conducted by RRC Associates for the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). The survey also suggested that the Rocky Mountain Range (Colo., Idaho, Mont., N.M., Utah and Wyo.) experienced a 7.2 percent decline down to 19.8 million visits from 21.3 million visits during the 2007-08 winter season. The region’s decline could be attributed to a strong and early snow season on the East Coast, causing many snow riders to choose resorts closer to home in an effort to cut back on travel expenses.

5.5% for the country and 6.5% for Utah is not that bad all things considered. I keep expecting it to be worse than it really was. Still close to pre-2005 record numbers for the country as a whole.

Posted by Justin at June 22, 2009 07:37 PM


I'm a Utah ski instructor. It looked to me like *overall* business was down much more than 6.5% -- I'd guess 15-20%. Lesson business was busy as usual during the Christmas and President's Day holidays but student's were scarce in between and Spring break lessons were way off too.

6.5% down for skier visits might be right, but I think a lot of the destination visitor short fall was made up by local skiers. I know I personally account for over 40 additional skier days last season -- days when in previous seasons I would have been teaching.

Posted by: Mark Murphy at June 23, 2009 09:05 AM

Skier visits don't mean a lot because they are a one size fits all measurement. Locals skiing on a season pass who pack their own lunch and don't take a lesson provide the resort with zero marginal revenue. They don't rent condos either.

I think the real numbers are probably more in line with what you are suggesting... that overall revenue is down by 20-25% with more people coming up because of the good deals, but with most of them being locals and spending less money.

Posted by: Justin B. at June 23, 2009 01:07 PM