NORTH WOODSTOCK, NH, JUNE 2012 – The 2011-12 ski season was a challenging winter for New Hampshire ski areas as well as the entire United States ski industry. New Hampshire’s alpine and cross country ski areas had to compensate for warm early season temperatures, a lack of natural snowfall throughout the season, and summer-like temperatures for more than a week in March that brought the season to an early end. Despite the weather, New Hampshire’s resorts hosted more than 2 million skier, snowboarder, and snowtubing visits, according to numbers released today by Ski NH.
Alpine ski areas recorded a total of 1,883,591 alpine skier and snowboarder visits, down 13.4% from the ten year average. Cross country areas also had a difficult winter, hosting 96,234 visits, down 29% from the ten year average. Areas with snowtubing parks reported 91,614 snowtubing visits. This number is down 13.5% from the ten year average.
The United States ski industry as a whole experienced its worst winter for skier visits since 1991-92 with the country down 15% from the 2010-11 winter; Northeast ski areas were down 20.2%. New Hampshire by comparison was down 20% from the 2010-11 winter, which was one of the best winters on record for state skier visits with 2,355,100 alpine visits. Fortunately the last time the United States experienced a decline of more than 15% or more in one winter, the following season saw business levels increase by 22%. The last time New Hampshire saw alpine skier visits dip below 2 million alpine visits (2006/07), the following season set the all-time record for NH skier visits at 2,366,000.
The state saw a slow start to the season with a lack of natural snowfall and a delayed start to consistent snowmaking temperatures in November and December. New Hampshire’s extensive snowmaking infrastructure went to work consistently before the December holidays and got the slopes ready for the vacation period. As the season progressed the slopes and trails were covered in machine-made snow and the challenge became to convince potential skiers and riders that mid-winter conditions were present at their favorite ski areas. Unlike many other parts of the country New Hampshire’s ski areas have heavily invested in extensive snowmaking technology enabling them to offer excellent snow conditions even during the most difficult winters. March brought record temperatures with many days reaching into the 80’s and as a result, a quicker-than-normal end to the season.
New Hampshire businesses rely heavily on the ski industry. An economic impact study conducted after the 2009/10 season showed a total of $910 million dollars spent by guests visiting NH ski areas. Of that total, only 12% was spent directly at ski areas, with the remaining 88% spent on ski visit-related expenses such as lodging, restaurants, gas, tolls, retail, and other. In recognition of the importance of the industry to the state’s economy, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch issued a Commendation on June 12 to the snowmakers, grooming machine operators and general managers from New Hampshire’s ski areas for their efforts to create outstanding snow conditions this past winter.
“Unfortunately in a winter such as this one our challenge is to convince our guests that we do indeed have snow on our slopes and trails even if they don’t have it in their backyard. Ironically, it should be ideal since they don’t have to shovel and plow it at home and can visit us to enjoy the fun aspects of winter. That said, the reality is that a lack of natural snow reduces the motivation to hit the slopes,” noted Karl Stone, Ski NH’s marketing director.
“We have been on an outstanding run of successful winters here in New Hampshire, with 8 of the last 10 winters being in the top ten seasons in terms of alpine skier visits. We’ve got a great deal of momentum for skiing and riding in the state. We are excited to see such a steady trend of strong winters following challenging ones, and we expect that pent-up demand to result in an exciting 2012-13 ski season,” summarized Alice Pearce, Ski NH’s president.
Ski NH is the statewide association representing 33 alpine and cross country resorts and more than 200 lodging and guest service properties in New Hampshire. For more information on ski areas, lodging packages, and updated winter events at Ski NH resorts, call Ski NH at (800) 88-SKI-NH (800-887-5464) or visit the Ski NH website at www.SkiNH.com. For statewide media relations assistance, visit the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism’s media room at http://visitnh.gov/media/ or contact Mr. Tai Freligh at 603-271-2343, option #2.