Warm, dry winter cost NH ski areas

By David Brooks, The Telegraph
Posted June 21, 2012, at 5:38 a.m.

Winter started warm, ended early and was one of the driest on record, so it’s not surprising that New Hampshire’s ski industry, like Maine, reported dismal results for the season.

Alpine ski areas recorded 1.88 million skier and snowboarder visits in the 2011-12 winter, down 13.4 percent from the 10-year average and down a whopping 20 percent from the previous winter.

This was the first time in six years that New Hampshire saw fewer than 2 million ski/snowboard visits, according to Ski NH, the state’s industry group.

Cross-country areas, which didn’t have the advantage of artificial snowmaking to compensate for lack of natural show, hosted 96,234 visits, down 29 percent from the long-term average. Even areas with snowtubing parks also were hit, reporting 91,614 snowtubing visits, down 13.5 percent from the average.

The pain was widespread throughout the country, most of which saw little snowfall and a warm winter.

The U.S. ski industry as a whole experienced its worst winter for skier visits since 1991-92, down 15 percent from the 2010-11 winter, while Northeast ski areas were down 20.2 percent.

Looking at history, the ever-optimistic Ski NH maintains that the glass might be half full rather than half empty, because very bad winters (those seeing a decline of more than 15 percent in visits) are often followed by very good winters.

For example, the group noted, the last time New Hampshire saw alpine skier visits dip below 2 million, in 2006-07, the next season set the all-time record at 2.37 million visits.

An economic impact study conducted after the 2009-10 season showed a total of $910 million spent by guests visiting New Hampshire ski areas. About 12 percent was spent directly at ski areas, with the remaining 88 percent spent on ski visit-related expenses such as lodging, restaurants, gas, tolls and retail shops.

“Unfortunately, in a winter such as this one, our challenge is to convince our guests that we do indeed have snow on our slopes and trails even if they don’t have it in their backyard. Ironically, it should be ideal since they don’t have to shovel and plow it at home and can visit us to enjoy the fun aspects of winter. That said, the reality is that a lack of natural snow reduces the motivation to hit the slopes,” said Karl Stone, Ski NH’s marketing director.

Ski NH represents 33 alpine and cross country resorts and more than 200 lodging and guest service properties in New Hampshire.

(c)2012 The Telegraph (Nashua, N.H.)

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http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/21/uncategorized/warm-dry-winter-cost-nh-ski-areas/ printed on July 12, 2014