National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) announced last Friday that US ski areas tallied an estimated 53.3 million skier and snowboarder visits during the 2017-18 season, down 2.8 percent from last season’s 54.8 million total. The annual skier visit count, an important industry metric, was released on Friday at the NSAA Convention and Tradeshow being held this week in Marco Island, Fla.
This past season, ski areas in the Midwest experienced an impressive rebound, as skier visits grew by 17 percent in this region to 6.4 million visits. In addition, the Southeast region had a strong season, up 3.6 percent to 4.3 million visits from 2016-17. The Northeast region held steady at 11.8 million visits, less than 1 percent down from the previous season. The Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest, and Pacific Southwest regions were down slightly more, ranging between -5 and -14 percent.
Visitation was up more than 52 percent in October and November and up 18 percent in March, due to a strong start and finish to the season. Resorts in several states set records for skier visits, including Whitefish and Bridger Bowl in Montana; Stevens Pass in Washington; Jackson Hole in Wyoming; and Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho. Resorts were open an average of five additional days this season over the prior season—a testament to the investments in efficient snowmaking infrastructure and a commitment to providing an outstanding experience to guests. Thanks to abundant snowfall totals late in the year, two resorts in Michigan—Boyne Mountain and Mount Bohemia—have been competing since mid-April to see which can stay open the longest this season.
Notably, the share of visits that included a lesson at US ski areas increased this season, indicative of the growing appetite to learn to ski and snowboard. These activities provide terrific opportunities to get outside in the winter and spend time with family and friends.
"I am pleased that the 2017-18 season was right in line with our 40-season average, with Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest performing above the 40-year average", said Kelly Pawlak, NSAA president and CEO. "Ending on a positive note with many spring records will help drive season pass sales".
NSAA will release a final report of the Kottke End of Season Survey this summer.
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado, is the trade association for ski area owners and operators. Formed in 1962, NSAA today represents 313 alpine resorts that account for more than 90 percent of the skier/snowboarder visits nationwide. Additionally, it has 414 supplier members who provide equipment, goods, and services to the mountain resort industry.