Ski Resorts Invest In Upgrades Even While Facing A Season Of Losses In 2020-21
After the majority of the 470 ski areas in the United States closed in mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Ski Areas Association reported skier visitor numbers dropped 14% compared to the 2018-19 season. It was a blow to the resorts, the towns they call home and a multitude of businesses that serve the industry with everything from gear and accessories to hotels, shuttle companies and more.
Had the 2019-2020 season continued on the track it was on prior to the shutdown, the NSAA projects it would have been the fourth-best season on record since NSAA began tracking in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, the 2020-21 season isn’t looking much better so far. Vail Resorts reported a 16.6% drop in visitation for the 2020-21 season through January 5, 2021 at North American destinations.
That drop in visitation corresponds with drops in revenue for lift tickets, ski school, dining and retail/rental. Season-to-date lift ticket revenue, which included allocated portions of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was down 20.9% compared to last year. Driven by capacity limitations and fewer offerings, ski school revenue was down 52.6% and retail/rental was down 39.2%, while dining dropped 66.2%.