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US resorts face the credit crunch
Tuesday November 11, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

Ski resorts in America are feeling the pinch. Hopefully the good snow will help though.

Vail resorts, which operates Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Heavenly near Lake Tahoe is reported to have seen an 8.4% decline in lift pass sales and a 17.7% drop in hotel bookings compared to the same period last year.

Bookings for accommodation in Colorado’s ski resorts has fallen for the third month in a row. Some other ski areas admit bookings are down 20%.

It’s a trend that is being reflected across North America as the economic situation affects the ski industry.

The exclusive ski and golf club, Yellowstone Club in Montana, in the area around Big Sky has filed for bankruptcy protection, a sign of the financial crisis.

It’s said that when America sneezes Europe catches a cold, so what happens in the USA and how the industry deals with the problems has important significance for the skiing industry in the Alps.

INDUSTRY FIGHTS BACK

money_400_400Discounts and special deals are the first thing on offer to woo people on to the US slopes.

- Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass is giving a 20% discount to people coming before Xmas who book a minimum of 3 nights.
- Crested Bute is offering a free flight to people who book 2 or more tickets.
- American Airlines is offering a free child place to an adult that book a ticket to some ski resorts.

The list of offers goes on with free lift passes, discounted equipment, cheap hotel rooms, free baggage on airlines and even petrol vouchers.

The Europeans are doing the same thing and here at planetSKI.eu we’ll try to keep you up to date on all the offers this season and don’t forget to check out our guide on how to save money.

EUROPEANS STAY AWAY

The American market will also be hit by a reduction of European skiers.  4% of the estimated 1.3m British skiers and snowboarders head across the Atlantic and this is expected to fall sharply this coming winter. In part because of our own economic woes, but also because the cost of skiing in American has risen sharply.

According to a recent report by the Post Office looking at currency fluctuations and costs resort prices have gone up by over 50% in some resorts as sterling slumps against the dollar.  With the increase cost of flying across the Atlantic caused by rising oil prices and increases in taxation then skiing in the States is far more expensive than last season when it represented good value for money.

The Post Office report into the ski industry says that on average Vail is the most expensive place to ski with a week's resort costs coming to £514.86, a rise of 55%.


NOT ALL GLOOMY

snowbird_-_openign_day_2_400However there are some plus sides.

The skiing industry tends to see less of a fall than other sectors of leisure tourism in an economic downturn as skiers and snowboarders are reluctant to give up their passion. 

“Last winter we were already in this economic slump but the ski industry had its best year ever,” maintains Ralf Garrison from the Mountain Travel Research Project. “We find that skiers and snowboarders continue to find a way to come on their vacation”.

People also tend to book their holidays later and later so the drop in bookings may be influenced by this development. People are now getting used to the economic situation, doing their sums and may well come to the conclusion that they can afford a ski trip after all.

Meanwhile the major factor out of human control seems to be helping the situation. The snow.

There have been good early season snowfalls across The Rockies with many resorts opening early and some great conditions.  Snowbird in Utah opened on November 7th, the second earliest start to a season in its 38-year history and the good snow in Europe is reflected in North America with good early season snowfalls.

One of the lucky ones out in Snowbird for the opening day was snowboarder, Megan Carney. "The first day of the season was unexpected and awesome.There was perfect powder and plenty of coverage. Lets hope it's going to be another epic season".

With good snow coverage in many parts of the US already then maybe, just maybe, Mother Nature will come to the help of skiers and snowboarders this winter.

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