According to a release by Colorado Ski Country USA, skier visits have declined 7.7 percent year to date from last year. The visits track through the end of 2008 but may boosted by yet uncounted New Years’ Week riders.
Here are some details from the release:
"We know that skiers and snowboarders are dedicated to their sports and optimistic by nature," explains Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. "While business is down compared to the last few record-setting seasons, we are seeing participation levels this year that exceed expectations and show strong performance in our sector of the travel industry."
Consistent snowfall, for which Colorado resorts are known, is one key factor affecting skier visits. History indicates that in a variable economy, snow conditions play an important role in influencing skiers. This past December, snowfall records were broken at Silverton, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, and Telluride.
One factor that may propel momentum during the upcoming months of the ski season is the recent softening of gas, fuel, and airline prices. Travelers seem encouraged by the lower prices, with Denver International Airport (DIA) reporting strong air travel numbers during the latter part of 2008. Despite record drops at other airports, DIA has not lost a proportional amount of business. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently announced that the Martin Luther King holiday weekend set a new car count record at the Eisenhower/Johnson memorial tunnels.
First period skier visit numbers do not necessarily indicate skier visit totals for the season. During the 2007-08 season, for example, skier visits were down for the first period and the season total was the second best on record.