The skier visits at North American resorts reached 59.1 million for the 2018-19 winter season, up nearly 11 percent compared to the 2017-18 total of 53.3 million visits. It ranks as the fourth most total visits since National Ski Areas Association began tracking visitation in 1978-79.
Abundant snowfall—up 31 percent nationwide over the previous season—and continued improvements to the guest experience contributed to increases in visitation in every region across North America.
“Snow is our greatest asset and this year was one to remember,” said NSAA president and CEO Kelly Pawlak. “Skiers and riders were greeted with an awesome on-snow experience. Continued investment in infrastructure, like chairlifts and snowmaking, make those days on the slopes even better.”
Visitation grew the most in the Pacific Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, which were up 22.9 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively, over the previous season. While extreme winter storms provided some challenges in both regions, ultimately the snowy days proved a draw for powder-seeking skiers and snowboarders. Total visitation numbers were highest in the Rocky Mountain region at more than 24 million—a record year for the region— followed by the Northeast with approximately 12.7 million.
NSAA director of marketing and communications Adrienne Saia Isaac said, “It will be important to continue this trend by engaging new participants in skiing and snowboarding, continuing to improve the guest experience, and mitigating the effects of climate change to ensure the health of our industry.”
Rob Katz, Vail Resorts chief executive officer, said, “We are pleased with our overall results as the 2018-19 North American ski season concludes, with strong growth in visitation and spending compared to the prior year.”
Total lift ticket revenue was up 9.3 percent over the same period last season. After Vail Resorts saw record pass sales results last spring, Katz noted that, to-date, VR has continued to see growth in pass sales, particularly with destination guests and Military pass products. Katz expects the primary impact of the new Epic Day pass product to come later in the fall and said, “Our attention is already turning to the 2019-20 season with spring season pass sales underway.”
Year-over-year, ski school revenue was up 6.5 percent, dining revenue was up 7 percent, and retail and rental revenue was up 6.2 percent at VR’s North America resorts. The increased guest spending is supported by increased total skier visits, which were up 6.8 percent season-to-date.
The good times continue in the ski business!