A record year for ski resorts

ski_record_usa

US records highest number of visitors in its history in 2021/2022 season despite challenging conditions

It seems that skiing is still in good shape. Pandemic, societal changes or simply a renewed spirit of adventure seem to be driving the overall numbers for the winter sports industry. This week, the National Ski Resort Association in the United States released the data concerning the last 2021-2022 season, with a big surprise: the number of visitors has broken all records, with more than 61 million participants. This is a 3.3% increase over last year’s 59 million and 1% higher than the last record of 60.5 million in 2011.

Among the main causes of this increase in the volume of visitors to American ski areas and resorts seems to be the boom in outdoor sports due to the pandemic of covid19, which is experiencing a sweet moment due to the importance that society is giving to outdoor experiences. At the same time, the well-known ski passes such as the EPIC Pass, the Indy Pass or the IKON Pass, which are worldwide known for the large number of resorts that include them in their value proposition, have continued to gain prominence and a place in the consumption habits of both sportsmen and families throughout the Anglo-Saxon country.

Record numbers of skiers

The NSAA time series goes all the way back to the late 1970s, when volume and measurement tools were not yet highly qualified. In the early years of the statistics we can see that between the 1978-1980 seasons American resorts averaged close to 50 million visits. The growth since then in the number of skiers and snowboarders who come to the resorts has only increased, albeit gradually but steadily. At the end of the decade of 2010 the previous records were registered, surpassing the barrier of 60 million visitors, to then maintain a few years where it seemed that skiing began to lose followers and the new generations chose other activities in the colder months of the year. This year has managed to bring back the joy to the resorts that many were beginning to question due to changes in climate, regulation and new challenges.

By region, the Rocky Mountains area saw a record number of skier visits, with a total of 25.3 million skiers. Other regions that also saw increased activity numbers were the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Southwest. Only two regions, the Southeast and Northwest saw skier and snowboarder volume drop from the previous season's 2020-2021 figures.

Source:NSAA

The record number of winter sports riders in the U.S. last season is indicative of the industry's good health and confirms that outdoor and outdoor sports trends continue to grow and find a place in the plans of more people around the world.
The strong growth in the number of skiers and snowboarders is a good sign for the continuity of winter sports, especially because although weather conditions in many areas have been changing in recent years, forcing the industry to look for sustainable models, the number of participants has remained relatively stable over the last decade, and even with a rebound in the last two seasons since the changes introduced by Covid 19.

Slowing down the decline in the number of resorts

Since 2012, the first year in which we have a detailed record of the number of resorts in the United States, we can see how the number of resorts has gone from 546 in the early 1990s to 473 today (2022). However, the rate of decline in the number of resorts has remained stable since 2010, when 471 resorts opened. Between 2010 and 2022, the number has fluctuated between 463 (2021), a historic low, and 486 (2011). Last season the total number of ski resorts in operation has also increased from 463 to 473 today.

Record investment by ski resorts

Investment by ski resorts is expected to reach an all-time high, with a total of $728 million for next season. Over the past three seasons, U.S. resorts have invested an average of around $16 per visitor to renovate and improve infrastructure, lifts, lodging and other services associated with skiing and snow sports.
The two giants of the industry alone, Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company, spent more than $50 per visitor in improvements during the 2021-2022 season at their respective resorts.

The dominance of IKON Pass, EPIC Pass and INDY Pass.

For the third consecutive season, season passes have outperformed day passes in terms of the percentage of skier visits. Last season season passes accounted for 52% of total visitors. All regions saw an increase in the number of season passes sold.
The popularity of the Ikon, Epic, Mountain Collective and Indy passes continues to grow and a large part of the industry's success last season was due to these season passes, which offer an attractive experience for all types of skiers.

Economic impact of skiing continues to grow

The winter sports industries, specifically alpine skiing and snowboarding, contribute more than $50 billion in value to the total U.S. economy and account for more than 530,000 direct jobs.
Skiing continues to be a major economic driver for mountain and rural areas in both the U.S. and Europe.