Excitement in the air at Park City tourism forum
Park City business leaders were jovial as they gathered Thursday afternoon for the Park City Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau’s annual Tourism Fall Industry Forum. After all, compared to the middle of August, they had much to celebrate.
Two months ago, anxiety loomed over the Park City business community, as uncertainty about whether one of the town’s premier ski resorts would open its slopes this winter hung in the air. But now, after Vail Resorts purchased Park City Mountain Resort — ending years-long litigation that put PCMR’s future in jeopardy — optimism abounds.
Speaking to the hundreds of business leaders crowded around tables at the Stein Eriksen Lodge conference center, Bill Malone, President of the Chamber/Bureau, explained the reasons for the positive outlook during a presentation at the beginning of the forum. According to Malone, the factors such as the PCMR resolution, an upward trend in skier days and the Chamber/Bureau’s strong marketing effort indicate business will be good this winter.
"As much anxiety as we had in the summer about all the potentials of (PCMR) being closed, the positive (feeling) has been three times that since September," he told The Park Record following his presentation. "The message out there is loud, and we’re in the fortunate situation that we’re capitalizing on that. We’re putting our dollars in the marketplace."
Many of those dollars have gone to big markets. Malone said in his presentation that the Chamber/Bureau has spent more than $2 million on advertising in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago and Baltimore, a figure he touted as unrivaled among resort towns.
Officials from the three ski resorts also spoke during the forum. Coleen Reardon, director of marketing for Deer Valley Resorts, briefed the crowd on Deer Valley’s recent acquisition of Solitude Mountain Resort and on plans for a gondola that would pick up and drop off riders on Main Street.
Blaise Carrig, president of the mountain division for Vail Resorts, which now owns PCMR and Canyons Resort, reiterated Vail’s plan to connect the two resorts with a lift by the start of the 2015-2016 ski season. He said talks are ongoing with the city and county.
Additionally, he said Vail may make an announcement in the coming weeks regarding other substantial improvements to the resorts.
"We’ll have a pretty big splash," he told the crowd. "And I think it will knock people out."
That remark got applause from the crowd. After all, it was a day for optimism.
"It’s somewhat of a pep rally for the season," Malone said of the event. " We’re hearing so many positive things from businesses in town. Things are really starting to pop and people are excited."
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