Ski industry lost $ 2 billion due to COVID-19 pandemic, trade group reports


The gondola at Breckenridge Ski Resort is empty on March 16. Vail Resorts announced on March 17 that most of its mountains in North America would close for the remainder of the season.
Courtesy of Elaine Collins

ASPEN – The U.S. ski industry lost at least $ 2 billion last winter due to the economic collapse of the COVID-19 crisis, a national trade association said on Wednesday.

The Denver-based National Ski Areas Association said skier visits fell nearly 14% in the 2019-20 season compared to 2018-19. Visits by skiers totaled around 51.1 million in the shortened season.

Beach resorts were forced to close in mid-March when the pandemic struck and states issued health orders demanding the closure of most businesses. The ski lifts stopped running when the resorts were full of vacationers during spring break.

So far, the ski industry had another strong season.

“Had the season continued on its momentum before the pandemic, the 2019-20 season would have been the fourth best season on record since the NSAA began monitoring visits during the 1978-79 season,” said the association in a press release.

Skier tours are a standard performance mark for the ski industry. A visit is the use of a lift ticket for any part of a day.

The NSAA reported that skier visits have declined in its six geographic regions, including the Rocky Mountains. Ski areas have been open on average 99 days this season, compared to 121 days for the 2018-19 season, the association reported.

Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association for most of the state’s ski areas outside of Vail Resorts, does not plan to release data on skier visits this season, although it has in the past. .

On June 4, publicly traded Vail Resorts released its third quarter earnings report of its exercise, from February to April. This is typically the company’s most profitable quarter, but the company recorded a 47.8% drop in net income in the quarter from a year ago. Total net income decreased $ 263.9 million, or 27.5%.

Alterra Mountain Co. – owned by KSL Capital Partners, former owner of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadow, and Henry Crown and Co., owner of Aspen Snowmass – declined to disclose any skier tours or income data.

It is not known how the pandemic will affect the 2020-21 season. The Arapahoe Basin ski area reopened on May 27 with permission from Governor Jared Polis. It was the only ski area in Colorado to do so. Polis said skiing is relatively safe during the pandemic because the physical distance is easy to maintain.

Precautions at A-Basin included a maximum of 600 skiers per day, physical distancing in lift lines and masks in the base area and on the ski lifts. Pool A closed after 12 days due to a lack of snow, but ski area officials described the short-lived reopening as a learning experience for next season.

“We know it wasn’t perfect,” spokeswoman Katherine Fuller said on June 4. “The demand was extraordinary and we learned a lot. So that really paves the way for summer and next fall.

The NSAA has said the economic loss from COVID-19 could reach $ 5 billion for the U.S. ski industry if the slowdown continues into the 2020-21 season.

The Summit Daily News and the Vail Daily contributed to this report.


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