Study confirms there’s no business like snow business

There’s no business like snow business, a new study of the economic affects of the skiing and snowboarding industry in Colorado confirms.

The industry contributes $4.8 billion annually to the state economy and supports the equivalent of more than 46,000 year-round jobs.

“This report confirms the importance of the ski industry to Colorado, both as an economic driver and a globally recognized symbol of our state,” said Melanie Mills, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA.

Kelly Ladyga, vice president of corporate communications for Vail Resorts, agreed. “As Colorado’s largest ski resort company, Vail Resorts is proud of the incredibly positive role the ski industry plays in Colorado’s economy and to the impact we have in the strong local economies of every community in which we operate.”

Colorado Ski Country USA joined with Vail Resorts in commissioning the study, the first of its kind in nearly two decades. As a trade association, Colorado Ski Country USA represents 21 member resorts, including the Powderhorn Mountain Resort east of Grand Junction. Vail Resorts operates four resorts in Colorado.

RRC Associates, a market research firm based in Boulder, conducted the study. The business research division of the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business reviewed the analysis and findings.

“The ski industry is very much a part of the Colorado brand and economy,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the business research division at the Leeds School of Business. “Resorts are evolving to provide year-round offerings, extending economic impacts well beyond the winter season.”

The 21 member resorts of Colorado Ski Country USA reported a total of 7.1 million skier visits during the 2014-2015 season. That’s just a half of a percent shy of the record-breaking total for the previous season, but still 6.5 percent more than the latest five-year average. A skier visit represents one person participating in skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day.

According to the study, skiers and snowboarders from outside of Colorado contribute the economic effects of the industry in spending more than $300 for each skier visit. They also account for more than 8.4 million nights in lodging accommodations.

During the 2013-2014 season, skiers and snowboarders accounted for 580,000 deplanements at Denver International Airport, 8 percent of all non-connective arrivals during that period.

The study also examined the effects of the ski industry on local tax bases. Since the 2002-2003 ski season, taxable retail sales during the winter in the six leading ski counties in Colorado have increased 62 percent for hotels and other accommodations, 75 percent for food and drinking services and 106 percent for real estate, rental and leasing services.