Skier visits to Colorado fell during the recently concluded season — but only enough that the state appears to have recorded its second-best year in history, Colorado Ski Country USA leaders announced Thursday.
The 22 member resorts of the industry group — nearly every resort in the state that is not owned by Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) — attracted 7.3 million visitors during the 2016-17 season, a 2.5 percent decrease from last season’s record total. Vail has not announced skier traffic specifically at its four Colorado resorts — Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. But overall traffic at its U.S. resorts fell 2.8 percent, meaning the state as a whole is very likely to fall below the 13 million person visitation mark it reached for the first time in 2015-16.
CSCUSA resorts was able to post near record numbers despite an up-and-down snow season that saw a year-over-year increase in snow in January and February but downturns during the rest of the year. Visitation boomed around the Christmas holidays when temperatures cooled and the sky finally opened up, but the late spring storms of April came too late for many resorts, which either had closed or were getting ready to close for the season, CSCUSA president and CEO Melanie Mills said.
Resorts also weathered a feared drop in international visitors from specific countries that were unhappy about the November election of President Donald Trump and his publicly stated immigration policies. While international visitation as a whole was down a little over 1 percent — a drop that at least partially was influenced by the continued strength of the U.S. dollar — trips to Colorado slopes by out-of-state domestic visitors offset that, Mills said.