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January 08, 2010

Holiday Business Up for Aspen - Not Back to 2007 Levels Yet

From the Aspen Times:

ASPEN — The Aspen Skiing Co. had a “relatively busy holiday period” and is running slightly ahead of last season's business pace, spokesman Jeff Hanle said Wednesday.

The number of riders hitting the slopes at the Skico's four ski areas was up about 3 percent from last season, Hanle said. The week before Christmas was down slightly, he said, but the week between Christmas and New Year's was “gangbusters.”

Expectations were modest for pre-Christmas business because the holidays fell on Fridays this season. When that happens, more people travel after Christmas, according to tourism officials.

Customers also seemed to open their pocket books a bit more. “In-resort spending” on ski school lessons and at mountain restaurants was also strong this season, Hanle said.

While Skico officials welcomed the gains, Hanle acknowledged a reality check is in order. Skier and rider visits were down 8 percent during the holidays in 2008, diminishing the favorable comparison this season. Business still lagged behind a typical holiday period.

“It certainly wasn't the best Christmas ever,” Hanle said.

The Skico's season-to-date business through Jan. 3 is also about 3 percent ahead of last season's level.

This is good news in that things are not only stable, but improving slightly. The bad news is that a modest year over year increase in visits does not translate into an increase in revenue because in order to attract folks, most of the businesses at resorts have cut prices.

This is doubly bad because the effect of decreased ski related revenue hurts the resort, but lodging, meal, entertainment, etc., spending is all down meaning far lower sales tax revenues in most of these communities. Add in lower property tax revenues and the situation is very dire.

Again, all we can do is hope that business picks up.

Posted by Justin at January 8, 2010 11:37 AM