Skier visits increase 11 percent |

Skier visits increase 11 percent

Axie Navas
A skier rides through the powder at Squaw Valley. The National Ski Areas Association reported an 11 percent rise in skier and snowboarder visits this season. Courtesy Jeff Engerbretson / Tribune file photo

The National Ski Areas Association reported an 11 percent rise in skier and snowboarder visits from last season, the largest gain posted by the industry in 30 years.

Vail Resorts doesn’t report visits by ski area, according to Heavenly Mountain Resort Director of Communications Russ Pecoraro, so it’s difficult to track how the South Shore fared in comparison. But occupancy rates and the average daily rate, or ADR, mirrored the positive trend.

“The early snow helped set us up,” Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority Executive Director Carol Chaplin said. “When it didn’t really snow during the heart of the winter, we still had enough momentum to keep going.”

The heavy snow in December locked people into reservations early, Chaplin said. The promising start combined with a stronger economy and pent-up demand from the 2011-12 season translated to a 5 percent occupancy increase and a 12 percent rise in ADR for the year to date.

“From a standpoint of occupancy and ADR, we were definitely up … Everybody would look back at this winter and say it felt pretty strong and pretty good,” she said.

Skier visits might not track parallel with overnight stays, according to Chaplin. With more pass offering options to ski and ride at multiple resorts, people are more likely to make one-day visits, she said.

The NSAA reported a slow but steady increase in overnight stays nationwide. Skier and riders who spent at least one night at a resort accounted for almost 50 percent of all visits.

There were other signs of improvement for the South Lake Tahoe economy. Sales tax for October through December is up 13 percent from 2011 data, according to a previous article.

The Pacific Southwest region — which includes California and Nevada — posted the largest increase in skier and rider visits at 20.5 percent, according to the NSAA report. Overall, the highest visitation rises occurred at the end of the season.

“Despite a slow start to the winter season in parts of the country, many ski areas experienced a strong Christmas holiday period and President’s Day through March, (and even into April in some regions), helping to propel the industry back into a more typical visit volume range of 55 to 60 million recorded over the last decade,” the April 2013 report read.

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