Difficult weather conditions prevented a better season for the ski resorts in the U.S.
Photo: DONGHWAN KIM auf Pixabay
Economy Tourism Ropeways

SKI INDUSTRY

U.S. Ski Industry Reports Data from 2023-24 Season

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) released preliminary skier visit numbers for the last season, reporting a total of 60.4 million. This season ranks as the fifth best on record.

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“Some ski area operators described the season as a roller coaster, and I applaud those same operators for being flexible, reopening to take advantage of a late season storm or making snow in late March to squeeze in one more week,” said Kelly Pawlak, NSAA president and CEO.

Visits by ski area size ans regional impacts

Extra-large resorts tallied the bulk of skier visits at 57%. Although small ski areas account for 59% of U.S. ski areas in operation, they tallied approximately 13% of total skier visits. NSAA measures ski area size by vertical transportation feet per hour (VTF/h), a calculation of uphill lift capacity.

NSAA divides ski country into six regions. While performance remained strong in several regions, all six regions experienced a decline in skier visits against last season’s unparalleled numbers. The Rocky Mountain region remains the most visited, reporting 26.7 million skier visits, followed by the Northeast at 12.4 million and the Pacific Southwest at 8.0 million. The Midwest was the fourth-most visited region, tallying 4.8 million visits despite also reporting the biggest YOY decrease (26.7%). The Pacific Northwest region reported 4.2 million visits. The Southeast reported 4.2 million and had the least change year over year.

Season passes remain the primary access product used by skiers and riders for the fifth consecutive season. Season pass holders made up 50% of visits nationally, with standard day or multi-day lift tickets claiming 31% of visits. The balance is claimed by frequency products (showing a 3 ppt increase this season), off-duty employees, complimentary products, etc.

Numbers of ski areas in operation are stable

Additionally, NSAA’s count of ski areas operating in the U.S. totaled 487 for the past season, an increase of seven ski areas from the season prior. Changes in this number included the reopening of seven ski areas; the founding of one new ski area; and the loss of one ski area due to a merger. Other fluctuations are caused by cycles of closure and reopening of small ski areas; factors such as inflow of capital, weather and local interest affect this cycle.

Capital Investment

Capital investment for 2023-24 season totaled $754.3 million.[1] Lift infrastructure continues to be a focal point for the U.S. industry, with 99 new and upgraded lifts being installed at ski areas this past season.   The average ski area reinvested $29.20 per skier visit back into the resort. The $4+ increase over last season’s average signals that ski areas remain laser-focused on improving the guest experience despite reduced visitation.  

Next season’s (2024-25) capital investment is projected to reach nearly $500 million, including plans for 71 new and upgraded lifts.


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