Ski Utah was on track to have another record year for snow fall and visitation. Last year, the Utah ski industry brought $1.6 billion to the state’s coffers. Even with the early shut down of most resorts statewide, they remain confident about this season and the future of skiing and riding in Utah.
Ski Utah Director of Communications Anelise Bergin says it was lucky the coronavirus pandemic hit so late in the season. She says Utah businesses will feel the economic impact, but low snow years can negatively impact visitation. She believes Utah’s resorts can contend with the disruption.
"At least we did see record visitation and record snowfall throughout our season and we probably, in our past if we looked through, had actually worse years as a whole. So, we've weathered through those and I know we’ll whether through this as well.”
Bergin says she hasn’t heard direct complaints from pass holders who feel slighted by the early closing.
“Most of the consumers really understand that by buying that pass is still by far the best economic deal they're really going to get for skiing. A lot of them, even if they only use them maybe 10 to 15 days this season, that would still by far be the smartest choice to purchase that pass.”
When Alterra and Vail Resorts announced the decision to suddenly close last week in response to COVID-19, Bergin says her organization was not involved in the decision. She says Ski Utah works as a marketing arm for all of Utah’s mountain resorts and doesn’t get involved in the operational decisions.
“The resorts have always put the safety of their guests at the forefront of all of their business decisions and we really saw that over the last week with their operational decisions and their closures over the last week. You could see that over, and over, again. Their thoughts were with the safety of all of their guests first, and we’ll all come through the aftermath of it I'm sure.”
Bergin isn’t sure how the resorts are handling the layoffs, but she says resorts have evolved through the years to provide summertime activities.
“And all of the resorts actually evolve over the years into a much more of a year-round format. As you all know oftentimes you go up to your favorite ski resorts in the summer now for a lot of different activities. And so luckily a lot of these resorts are able to keep their employees on more year-round and hopefully they are able to get them back up there, working."
The state allocated $24 million dollars for tourism marketing during the 2020 session but at this point, there’s not a clear directive on that spending.
Bergin says her hunch is that by next winter everyone will be skiing like normal and she believes the summer business will be up and running a few months from now.