Vermont Ski Areas Association reported Wednesday at its annual meeting held at Jay Peak Resort.
The state’s 18 ski resorts recorded 3,903,171 skier and snowboarder visits during the 2011-12 season - down 10.5 percent from the 4,365,906 visits the previous season, which was the best season since 2004-05.
Although Vermont’s numbers were disappointing, the state fared far better than other ski states. Nationally, skier visits were off 16 percent this season.
Despite low natural snowfall during the 2011-12 ski season, state-of-the art snowmaking and grooming enabled Vermont ski areas to have significant amounts of open terrain, often unmatched in percentage by any other ski state. "The 2011-12 season stands as a testament to the resiliency of our ski areas and showcased the unrivaled prowess of our industry’s snowmaking and grooming capabilities", said VSAA president Parker Riehle. "The caliber of our 75% statewide snowmaking coverage means, for example, that we have over 1,000 acres more terrain with snowmaking alone than all of New Hampshire’s total ski area terrain".
He said the state’s 30 cross-country areas had a rougher season since only a few have the capacity to make snow and even then on limited terrain.
Based on a 10-year average, he said skier visits were down 5 percent this season.
Despite adverse weather conditions, with temperatures that climbed into the 70s in March, the VSAA said that tourism-related tax revenue during the winter were stronger than expected.
Riehle said rooms and meals, and sales tax revenue were up a combined 2.5 percent over the previous winter.
Although the downhill ski resorts struggled this season, Riehle said he knows of no resorts in dire financial trouble.
Ski Vermont is a private non-profit trade association founded in 1969 to help create a legislative, economic and social environment in which the state's ski industry can grow and prosper, addressing issues including environmental integrity, economic and social contributions to the state's welfare, and competitive positioning of the state as a destination for winter tourism. Ski Vermont serves its 19 Alpine and 30 Nordic member resorts in three major areas: Governmental Affairs, Marketing and Public Affairs.