SAM (Ski Area Management magazine) reports despite ongoing economic fluctuations and decreased consumer confidence, western mountain destinations posted a 15.8 percent increase in occupancy in September 2010 compared to September 2009, according to the latest data released by Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). This represents the biggest monthly increase in more than two years, as well as the fourth consecutive month of higher occupancy and better rates in mountain destinations.The data also revealed that the rise occurred without major discounting; the average daily rate (ADR) was down just 0.8 percent compared to last year.The data reflect conditions at more than 200 destination properties in 15 resorts across Colorado, Utah, California, and Oregon.
MTRiP also reported that on-the-books reservations at participating resorts for the next six months is currently up 3.3 percent. The booking pace during September was brisk, too,with a 14.9 percent increase for arrivals in September through February. Advance bookings are up in five of the next six months, with the strongest gains in November and March. "The overall economy remains precarious, which has forced mountain resorts to really earn the business they are getting. Fortunately, they seem to be doing just that", observed Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP. "Consumers appear willing to commit discretionary spending toward travel and recreation in the mountain travel industry", said Tom Foley, research analyst for MTRiP, "but with shaky consumer confidence, there is no guarantee that the travel industry will continue to outpace other segments".
In a sign that the travel recovery remains patchy, the Travel Price Index declined one percent, its first drop since December 2009. It was nonetheless up 3.2 percent from August of 2009. "Overall gains remain modest so far. If customer demand remains relatively tepid, competition among resorts is likely to remain strong, and individual results may vary widely", Garrison cautioned.