Ski industry lost $2 billion because of coronavirus pandemic, trade group reports
The U.S. ski industry lost at least $2 billion last winter because of the economic collapse from the COVID-19 crisis, a national trade association announced Wednesday.
Denver-based National Ski Areas Association said skier visits fell nearly 14 percent in the 2019-20 season compared to 2018-19. Skier visits totaled about 51.1 million in the shortened season.
Most resorts were forced to close in mid-March when the pandemic hit and states issued health closure orders. The lifts stopped spinning when resorts were crammed with spring break vacationers.
Up until then, the ski industry was logging another solid season.
“Had the season continued along its track prior to the pandemic, the 2019-20 season would have been the fourth best season on record since NSAA began surveying visitation in the 1978-79 season,” NSAA said in a news release.
Skier visits are a standard mark of performance for the ski industry. A visit is the use of a lift ticket for any part of a day.
NSAA reported that skier visits fell in all six of its geographic regions, including the Rocky Mountains. The average ski area was open only 99 days this season, down from 121 days in the 2018-19 season, the association reported.
It’s unknown how the pandemic will affect the 2020-21 season. Ski areas such as Aspen Mountain have started summer operations by spacing riders on the Silver Queen Gondola and limiting gatherings on the mountain. Social distancing could affect capacity during the winter as well.
Both Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort have announced plans to open for the summer in the coming days.
NSAA said the economic loss tied to COVID-19 could reach $5 billion for the U.S. ski industry if the downturn continues during the 2020-21 season.
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The logging industry has a 160-year history in the Kamas Valley but has been nearly pushed out. Officials see it as key to reducing fire risk.