Ski Utah: season off to a great start |

Ski Utah: season off to a great start


Utah’s resorts are conducting half a billion dollars worth of improvements this fall "easily the biggest since the Olympics," said Ski Utah president Nathan Rafferty at the marketing group’s winter kick-off at the state capitol Wednesday.

"You’re not seeing that in other ski states," he said.

Most of that money has been spent in Park City at Canyons Resort and Montage Deer Valley, he added.

Every fall Ski Utah holds a media event to show off its new winter ad campaign. This year, three ads debuted, but only two will air on multiple cable stations for three weeks starting Jan. 2. Ski Utah is asking the public to vote on their two favorites at

The theme of the ads is a continuation of the "snowflake" campaign with actors portraying flakes excited to be among Utah’s "Greatest Snow on Earth."

Rafferty said he’s optimistic about the effect the ads will have. Utah’s resorts experienced a record number of skier days last season, which was the fourth best ever. It was also within a hair of the second and third best ever, he added.

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So far, the ski the snowboarding season is off to a strong start. With a handful of resorts already open and 80 inches of snow in the mountains, photos from local resorts have aired on national cable television this week, he said.

The majority of last season’s snowfall fell in March and April. That’s great for locals and statistics, but early snowfall is what gets destination skiers excited and booking trips. With reservation windows expected to be shorter than ever this year, a strong start is more important, he said.

And a strong ski and snowboarding season is important to Utah, Rafferty emphasized. The sport brings $1.13 billion into the state.

"We hide up in the mountains sometimes but this is big business," he added.

Approximately 110,000 jobs in Utah come from travel and tourism, estimated Lt. Governor Greg Bell at the press conference. That’s equal to 9.3 percent of all non-farm employment.

The three television ads made for this season emphasize the number of Utah resorts within 30 minutes of the Salt Lake City International Airport, the size of Utah’s resorts and the quality of snow.

Leigh von der Esch, director of the Utah Office of Tourism, said cooperative marketing like that done by the airport in conjunction with the Park City Chamber/Bureau to emphasize accessibility, allows Utah’s communities to maximize their advertising.

Cooperative marketing has resulted in a total of $20 million spent across the state in matching advertising dollars to reach out-of-state visitors year-round, she said.

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