Skier visits for the 2020-21 season at Colorado Ski Country USA’s (CSCUSA) 22 member ski resorts were up 7.6 percent from the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, but trailed the five-year average by 3.7 percent. Total statewide skier visits—which includes non-member ski areas’ estimated numbers—reached approximately 12 million.
CSCUSA estimated an all-time high 13.8 million skier visits back in 2018-19, the last non-Covid season. In 2020-21, CSCUSA members saw record visitation from out-of-state visitors, modest increases in in-state visits, and a sharp decline in international visits.
The season began with low snow and high demand while resorts and guests adjusted to the operational restrictions. Snowfall finally picked up in February and March, but CSCUSA resorts reported season snow totals 15 percent below the 30-year average.
“Despite the challenges our ski areas, our mountain communities, our employees and our guests faced throughout this Covid-impacted season, the industry is pleased with how this season turned out,” said CSCUSA president and CEO Melanie Mills. “Colorado was one of only two states in the Rocky Mountain Region where ski areas operated with a variety of capacity limitations this season. This created significant operational challenges and is reflected in the more modest increase in our visitation numbers compared with some of our neighboring states.”
CSCUSA members worked with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and local public health authorities to craft flexible operating plans so adjustments could be made as pandemic developments dictated. Restrictions on indoor dining, lessons, and events lasted the entire season, resulting in reduced ancillary revenues.
“The industry made important investments in technology and infrastructure this year to operate in the pandemic and those investments were instructive on how to continue to improve the guest experience,” said Mills. “Many of these improvements are here to stay and guests can expect to see them in the future.”
“We’re proud of our work this season and if the demand for skiing and snowboarding we saw this past year continues, we expect to see a robust and continuing rebound from the pandemic,” Mills added.