BEAVER CREEK, Colo. -- June 12, 2003 -- Colorado ski resorts enjoyed abundant snowfall and overcame the challenges of a volatile economy, a war in Iraq and a troubled airline industry to post an impressive 4.29 percent increase in skier visits during the 2002-03 season, Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced today during its annual meeting.
Rob Perlman, president and chief executive officer of CSCUSA, said the 11,605,588 skier visits*, an increase of 477,457 skier days from last year and 198,958 above the five year average, demonstrates Colorado’s continued lure as the nation’s premier winter destination. This season’s Colorado skier visits were only 374,131 shy of the record visits in the 1997-98 season.
“Winter sports enthusiasts sought out Colorado this past season to escape the increasing demands and pressures of everyday life,” Perlman said. “Our 24 resorts, each with their own charm and allure, offer an unparalleled on-mountain experience at an incredible value.”
Skiers and snowboarders proved resilient to the less than favorable market conditions. “The mountains of Colorado offer the perfect setting for people to rejuvenate and reconnect with those close to them, their friends and family,” Perlman continued. “I’m confident that these are enduring priorities for travelers, and our resorts will continue to fulfill the strong demand for those types of vacation experiences next season, keeping Colorado on top as the nation’s capital of winter sports.”
Another bright spot for the ski industry in Colorado this season was an abundance of early-season snow, enabling many resorts to open before their scheduled date. On Nov. 18, 2002, 12 resorts were open compared to only five last year. And, each resort open in November had more than double the mid-mountain base, number of lifts running and open terrain than they had the same date the previous season.
“The momentum we garnered in the early season gave us the jump start we needed to sustain our business for the remainder of the season,” Perlman said.
Despite abundant late season snow, visitation fell off slightly in March and April, mirroring national trends that kept travelers closer to home during the war with Iraq and other uncertainties in the marketplace.
Colorado skier visits are tracked in three groupings: Destination Resorts*, Front Range Destination Resorts** and Front Range Resorts***. All three resort groupings experienced an increase in skier visits this year.
Year-to-date numbers through May 31, 2003 indicate that Destination Resorts experienced an increase of 96,719 skier visits (2.63 percent increase), Front Range Destination Resorts experienced an increase of 307,076 skier visits (4.43 percent increase) and Front Range Resorts saw an increase of 73,662 (14.20 percent increase). Destination Resorts experienced an increase in skier visits for only the second year out of the last five.
Perlman said the Colorado ski industry has reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season. “With national skier visits projected to hit an all time record, the economy moving in a more positive direction and the promising upward trend of our skier visits this year, things are looking up for the Colorado ski industry. Our efforts, combined with the infusion of tourism dollars from the state, will allow us to continue to keep Colorado top of mind with destination visitors.”