The Importance of Immigration in Ski Towns

Caitlin Perry | | Industry NewsIndustry News
ski school
Image: Squaw Valley


Not only is the government restricting immigration from specific countries they are now looking into cutting down the J-1 cultural exchange program. This program includes 13 categories and allows up to 300,000 foreign visitors to come to the United States each year. The majority of participants in this program are students on their school breaks and are under the age of 30. These students work across America in various areas ranging from ski resorts to amusement parks. The review is looking into the possibility of eliminating certain categories of the visa, such as workers programs to give the jobs back to American workers. Some additional options being considered are imposing new regulations on participants and requiring employers to provide proof that they cannot find Americans to fill these jobs.


visa regulations
Image: Daily Mail


Tourism to the USA and within it is an industry that may not be the intended target of these changes however it is feeling the collateral damage. Foreign visitors help boost local economies by spending their money and working seasonal jobs that American citizens do not want. Dave Boyd, director of risk and regulatory affairs at the National Ski Areas Association stated, “We’ve always been interested in hiring local college students, but they don’t want the jobs. They want year-round opportunities.”  Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort stated that  “Our J-1 and H2-B team members are critical to our ability to operate the resort. Without these supplemental team members, we could not keep all of our outlets open and maintain our stellar reputation.”


ski events
Image: Squaw Valley


According to the National Ski Areas Association, an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 J-1 workers are employed at ski resorts nationwide each winter.  Ski towns rely heavily on these workers to operate efficiently throughout the summer and winter seasons. The prospect of tightening these foreign visas may make it harder for ski resorts and ski towns to continue to hire international seasonal workers. This, in turn, could lead the unemployment rate in ski towns to increase, at the present unemployment rates in ski towns is low. Approximately 12% to 15% of the staff who work at Squaw Valley are J-1 workers.  Andrew Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings stated that ending the program would be an economic blow to the resort.


“It would be worse than the drought,”  – Andrew Wirth.


Ending the J-1 program would be an economic blow to ski towns and resorts that they may not recover from. While no official decisions have been made yet it is crucial ski towns voice their opinions, that their opinions are allowed to be heard and that their opinions are considered on all grounds. If this program is cut there will be a ripple effect that may cause irreparable harm across the nation.






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4 thoughts on “The Importance of Immigration in Ski Towns

  1. Yep Andy Wirthless, it will be an economic blow to your investors and you and your CEO buddies bonuses. You will actually have to pay your employees what they are worth so they might stay longer than three months. The era of keeping wages artificially low is over.

  2. Not sure how you figure eliminating foreign workers would increase unemployment? Perhaps the ski resorts should have a business model that incorporates employing locals, which would include paying a livable wage and making sure there is housing available for workers. I’m not against having foreigners here, but I think we could get by just fine without them. That dude sitting at a desk all day (probably surfing sites like snowbrains), making a good salary with benefits – yeah, he can take out the trash on the way out. That chick in marketing? She can pick up some slack, too. As with many business, the people with the easiest jobs often make the most money.

  3. Don’t presume they are jobs Americans don’t want. They can’t make a living at the jobs. They can’t afford to live in the towns because of low pay. End the J-1 program so employers could not get by with paying $9 an hour instead of a living wage of $30 for Americans so they could live in or near ski town. You want to visit America, stay home, work, save your money and visit as a tourist. J-1 are guaranteed hours over Americans at these jobs because of the employment contract. I know because I work at a hotel that has J-1s. Most are college educated and most of the time think the work is beneath them especially J-1s from eastern block countries. The best workers of the program come from the Philippines and Jemmica.

  4. hey caitlin be careful regurgitating nonsense from andy wirthless next thing he is going to ask you to re post is his fluff piece about how squaw can’t survive without his obscene water park

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