Colorado sees $4.8 billion economic impact from skiing, snowboarding industry
VAIL — Colorado’s ski industry generates a $4.8 billion economic impact annually, according to the first report of its kind in 20 years.
Colorado Ski Country USA and Vail Resorts on Wednesday announced the findings of a comprehensive study about the state’s ski and snowboard industries. The study confirms that guests from outside the state provide strong economic growth in mountain communities.
About 500,000 Coloradans skied during the 2013-14 season while more than 7 million visits came from skiers and snowboarders from around the country and the world. Out-of-state visitors spend more than $300 per visit, including more than 8.4 million nights in lodging, according to the report.
“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 CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA.
According to the report, the ski and snowboard industries in Colorado support over 46,000 year-round jobs in the recreation, lodging, food services, retail and other sectors and generate $1.9 billion annually in labor income.
“To provide an unmatched guest experience, Colorado’s ski areas employ highly trained staff on and off the mountain,” Mills said. “Furthermore, as a large share of our guests’ spending occurs outside the ski areas, our resorts are the economic engine of many of Colorado’s renowned mountain communities.”
The economic impact of skiing and snowboarding is also seen across the state, not just in resort communities. In 2013-14, skiers and snowboarders accounted for 8 percent of all non-connecting arrivals at Denver International Airport, about 588,000 deplanements.
‘RESORTS ARE EVOLVING’
“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,” said Kelly Ladyga, vice president of corporate communications for Vail Resorts.
With skiing and snowboarding providing much of the state’s tourism industry, many mountain resorts, including Vail, are looking to expand Colorado’s appeal to summer tourists.
“The ski industry is very much a part of the Colorado brand and economy,” said professor Rich Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division at Leeds School of Business at CU. “Resorts are evolving to provide year-round offerings, extending economic impacts well beyond the winter season.”
Vail Resorts invested over $100 million in resort improvements for the 2015-16 season, bringing its five-year resort investment total to more than $500 million.
“Vail Resorts remains bullish on the continued growth of the ski industry in Colorado as demonstrated by the consistent reinvestment of millions of dollars onto our mountains, including new summer and year-round activities and facilities to extend visitation in the summer and increase year-round employment.”
ABOUT THE STUDY
The study was conducted by RRC Associates, a market research firm based in Boulder which specializes in tourism, snowsports and mountain resorts.
The analysis and report were also reviewed by the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado. The Business Research Division has extensive experience conducting economic impact studies in a variety of industries and produces the annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook.