Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) announced today at the associations 52nd Annual Meeting that skier visits at its 21 member resorts totaled 7.1 million in 2014/15, off by a little more than one-half of one percent compared to last years CSCUSA membership season total. However, this estimation shows CSCUSA resort visits up over the five-year-average by 6.5 percent. Non-CSCUSA member resorts declined to report Colorado visits for 2014/15, so a statewide total is not available.
Fueled by momentum from last years record setting season, skiers took advantage of the improving economy and Colorados reputation for dependable snow conditions to explore our variety of world-class and artisanal resorts, stated Melanie Mills, president & CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. Were thrilled with this years numbers, especially in a season that saw snow totals that were 36 percent below the 10-year average during the core of the ski season, as its a real testament to the caliber of Colorado Ski Country USAs brand of resorts and the dedication of our guests.
CSCUSA resorts also benefitted from ongoing improvement in the state and national economy and travel sector, strong season pass sales, strong early season travel bookings and a snow advantage relative to resorts west of Colorado. Not surprisingly, we saw an increase in the destination visitor sector, a reduction in in-state visits and widespread gains in skier spending across all categories, commented Mills.
Ski school was an especially strong performer in 2014/15, with lesson volume, participation, and revenue showing strong gains. CSCUSA members lesson results outpaced the nation and the Rocky Mountain region and we are pleased to see our efforts to grow the next generation of skiers bearing fruit.
CSCUSA resorts skier visits surpassed the ski industry nationally, which saw certain regions impacted by drought and frigid temperatures. The associations 21 member resorts also outperformed the national Rocky Mountain region of the U.S. where snow conditions were more consistent.
The reputation of our resorts, the investment in snow making and grooming equipment, and the high standards in guest service visitors have come to expect is evidenced by Colorados ownership of 22 percent of the national skier market, said Mills.
Ideal snowmaking conditions and some early season snowfall led to an eagerly anticipated ski season opening on October 17, 2014. The October opening was followed by unseasonably warm temperatures that delayed a few resort openings.
Our in-state skiers, who usually populate the slopes early in the season, didnt really start skiing until temperatures became more in line with winter, said Mills. Snow didnt come in earnest until mid-December and thats when the pendulum swung the other way and we were fortunate to have good snow conditions and cold temperatures over the popular holiday period, said Mills.
Despite spells of warm weather in January, by mid-season CSCUSA resorts exceeded expectations for popular ski weekends when skiers showed up in droves. Wintery weather returned in February giving way to spring conditions in March and April with the deluge of snow in May adding powder days and snowpack.
Overall Colorado Ski Country had a very strong season, which is great news for the Colorado ski industry. Were buoyed by this seasons strong numbers and are hopeful this momentum continues, said Mills.
During the course of the 2014/15 season CSCUSA resorts highlighted the importance of skier safety, resorts top priority, in several ways including by participating in National Safety Awareness Month. Additionally, Aspen Snowmass was recognized with the 2014/15 National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Safety Award for Best Employee Safety Program.
Skier visits are the metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents a person participating in the sport of skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort. These numbers are preliminary results and subject to final adjustments by CSCUSA members. The decision to release individual numbers is up to each individual resort.