Record editorial: Growth of Utah’s ski industry felt in Park City
No, you weren’t imagining things — it really was that busy on the slopes.
Utah’s ski resorts saw 5.3 million skier visits — the most ever — this past winter, Ski Utah announced Tuesday. While data broken down by ski resort wasn’t released, it’s a fair assumption to say that Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort played a major role in pushing the state to another record-breaking season.
Perhaps it was surprising that the state saw so many skiers and snowboarders in a winter defined by the pandemic — or maybe not, given the popularity of outdoor recreation activities during COVID — but the general trend is not. It was the fourth time in six seasons that the state set a record for skier days, a rise spurred in part by the success of Vail Resorts’ and Alterra Mountain Company’s multi-resort season passes and one that seems unlikely to end any time soon.
Parkites, if they aren’t already, should get used to sharing the slopes with plenty of other people.
The surge in skier visits over the last half-decade is of course great for business. People coming from out of state to play at PCMR or Deer Valley spend money on hotels, patronize retail shops and eat out at restaurants, buoying both our economy and tax base. Pretty much everyone who lives here benefits, in one way or another, from the success of the state’s ski industry. And in that sense, we hope the record set this past season is short lived.
But the popularity invites challenges, too, as Parkites well know. In addition to longer lift lines, the increasing number of skiers and snowboarders means more traffic on our clogged entryways, increased pressure on the labor market as employers staff up to meet the demand and reduced availability of affordable housing.
In short, all the problems a small community faces when it’s also a world-class tourist destination, leaving local leaders and other residents grasping for solutions with no easy answers.
Do we wish skiers and snowboarders would steer clear of Park City in favor of competing destinations in Colorado or Idaho? Hardly. We have the “Greatest Snow on Earth,” and we make our bones by inviting others to experience it.
As Park City and the rest of Utah continue to attract more and more visitors from around the world each winter, though, the effects on our community will continue to grow.
Call it a first-world problem. Given the alternative — the crash of our tourism-based economy — it’s one we’re willing to put up with.
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Our view: After the coronavirus pandemic blotted out the 2020 edition of the beloved event, Parkites and those who flock from other areas to attend each year are ready to get in on the action on Main Street.