December 26, 2008
Skiers may stay closer to home
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Ski instructor Caroline Edinger, left, gives a lesson Wednesday to first-time downhill skier Jolie VanKeuren, 8, of New York City, at Song Mountain. Resorts hope that the economy will keep more skiers near home.
Ski resorts are experiencing a big increase in customers this season, and the recession the country is in may be the reason why.
Scott Brandi, president of Ski Areas Association of New York, said in the slow economy people are opting to ski close to home, rather than traveling to other states to ski.
“People are less apt to fly or take a long western vacation or a long week in Vermont as opposed to skiing at home,” Brandi said.
This could benefit local ski resorts, such as Greek Peak in Virgil, Labrador Mountain in Truxton, Song Mountain in Tully and Toggenburg Mountain in Fabius. These resorts benefit from a large population of skiers in Central New York and from being only a few hours from New York City.
“The numbers so far are phenomenal,” Brandi said of ski resorts in Central New York.
He said he thinks the local skiing boom is a result of the good skiing weather and plentiful snow this December, but it is too soon to tell how much each factor is contributing to it. After next week, Brandi will see the economy’s effect more clearly because the week after Christmas is when many people normally travel to New England, Colorado or Utah to ski, he said.
Cyndy Sisto, office manager for Toggenburg, said Wednesday that the resort had about 17,000 skier visits so far this season, including season passes and one-day passes. Last year by Christmas Eve, about 13,000 skiers had visited the resort, she said.
Rick Bunnell, director of marketing at Labrador Mountain, estimates an 18 percent increase this winter, compared to this time last winter, based on the amount of traffic in the parking lot.
Bunnell also thinks the recession has been a large factor in the increase.
“I’m a firm believer in that. When the economy gets bad, people won’t travel west. They’ll stay local,” Bunnell said.
Kevin Morrin, marketing director for Greek Peak, said the number of Greek Peak visitors this year is about even with last year. He, too, expects the economy to increase business this winter.
“People are still going to recreate. They’re still going to go on vacation. They’re just not going to go as far, Morrin said. “That’s what we call the rubber tire vacation.”
With 47 ski resorts, New York has more ski resorts than any other state in the country, Brandi said. The state ranked fifth last year in skiing visitations, with 4.1 million outings, after only Colorado, California, Vermont and Utah.
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