Utah Skier Numbers Promising Depsite an Abrupt End to Season | 4th Best Season On Record

SnowBrains | | Industry NewsIndustry News
ski utah, snowbasin,
A group of friends get together for a fun day of skiing and riding at Snowbasin. Jasper Gibson, Hannah Barkey, and Jordan Chamberlain study the Mount Ogden Bowl, Snowbasin. Credit: Louis Arevalo/Ski Utah

Despite an abrupt, early end to the ski season amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Utah ski resorts still saw the 4th best season on record with 4,392,698 skier visits recorded for the 2019–20 winter season. A skier visit is counted every time a skiing or snowboarding guest visits a ski area or resort. Utah’s ski resorts saw the highest per-capita spend on record, but experts estimate that the Utah ski industry experienced a massive revenue loss of $232.4 million due to the early closures.

“Ending the ski season early in Utah was devastating for our ski resorts and for our community. But to see this abbreviated season still ranks as our fourth highest visitation on record shows the strength of Utah’s ski industry.”

– Ski Utah President & CEO, Nathan Rafferty

While Utah’s skier visits for the 2019–20 season were down 14.3% from the previous record 2018–19 season, skier visits were still up 2.4% from the 10-year average, and experts believe that Utah ski resorts were likely on track for another record visitation number. In addition to this winter’s visit count ranking as the 4th highest season on record, Utah also saw the highest per-capita spend on record, resulting in a direct economic impact of $1.551 billion, the second-highest on record.

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) released nationwide skier visitation count last week, noting that the coronavirus pandemic derailed what could have been a top four-season for the U.S. overall as well. Similar to Utah, skier visit numbers to U.S. areas were down almost 14% compared to the 2018–19 season, totaling 51.1 million for the 2019–20 ski season.

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Early up at Alta on the Baldy Shoulder and sidecountry around the Alta perimeter. Credit: Chris Pearson/Ski Utah Chris Pearson

Additional data shows that the average U.S. ski area was only open for 99 days this past season, down from 121 days in the 2018/19 season, with 93% of resorts in the United States having closed earlier than projected.

As ski resorts in Utah begin to open for the summer, a new normal has begun in the Wasatch — including limited capacities and additional health and safety precautions for resort summer activities. In addition to reopening for the summer, Utah’s resorts are preparing for the 20–21 winter with more pass assurance than ever before. Many passes are offering deferral programs, additional insurance, and extended deadlines to help skiers and snowboarders rest easy with their season pass purchase.

“Utah was poised to log a second record season in a row before resort closures began on March 14, one of the busiest check-in days of the season. I am proud of our industry and the difficult but responsible decisions made by Utah resorts to prioritize the safety of their guests and employees. While it’s sure to look different next winter with new safety measures in place, I am optimistic that skiing and riding will be better than ever during the upcoming 2020–21 ski season.”

– Ski Utah President & CEO, Nathan Rafferty

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