Believe it: Colorado skier/snowboarder visits are UP

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The news keeps getting better: For one thing it's actually snowing up in them thar hills this week, and for another -- economyshmonomy -- visits to Colorado ski resorts are up this year, according to Colorado Ski Country USA. A couple inches here, one lone percentage point there... We'll take good news anywhere we can get it. Quick, everyone call in sick!

Here's the press release from CSCUSA:

DENVER, Colo. - January 26, 2010 - Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) reported today that its 22 member resorts saw a slight bump in skier visitation for the first portion of the 2009-10 winter season over the same period of the year prior. CSCUSA resorts collectively posted an increase of 1 percent for the first period defined by the season's opening day of October 7, 2009, through December 31, 2009.

"It's a solid start," commented Melanie Mills, president & CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. "However, we still have a long way to go with a lot of season left. For now, we're glad to see a little momentum in the way of increased visitation and are hopeful it will continue."

 Late fall and early winter storms brought enough snow to Colorado that some resorts were able to open ahead of schedule and have the majority of their terrain available for holiday guests. Healthy snow conditions in the southwest and central parts of Colorado helped drive visitation to those resorts, while drier conditions in the northern part of the state in December limited first period visitation to some degree.
   
The holidays brought enthusiastic skiers and riders to the slopes, particularly during the New Year's week. Group business around the holiday time and robust international visitation in parts of the state also helped boost skier visit numbers. Ski schools were jam-packed, an indicator that skiers and riders are spending a bit more this year. The busy holiday period is indicative of Colorado skiing's strong brand and a testament to the quality product offered by CSCUSA resorts.

"We are seeing some positive signs this year but are not breaking out the bubbly just yet," continues Mills. "Travelers are booking their trips very close to the time they plan to travel, so it's hard to predict our future."  Looking ahead, the Association has cause for optimism. Snow remains a top consideration, so the big snowfalls throughout the state in the last week combined with the visibility of skiing and snowboarding during the upcoming Winter Olympic Games will help drive participation in the key mid-season months.

Skier visits are the metric used to track participation in skiing and snowboarding. A skier visit represents a person participating in the sport of skiing or snowboarding for any part of one day at a mountain resort.

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