That was interesting. A couple of things: "Austria is also the only country where the schools are still going on ski weeks on a systematic basis. This may
The United States are the biggest ski market, with a high number or
resorts and of skier visits. The industry is dominated by several big
players, operating several mostly integrated resorts. Besides, it accounts numerous independent ski areas of various sizes. Nevertheless, further to closures and other misfortunes, their number has
been decreasing over the years.
The United States ski industry is the one that has been the most
closely analysed over the years. There is a substantial history of statistical data available.
It was the first in the industry to raise issues of
the discrepancies between population growth and attendance in the
ski resorts, especially as it mainly depends on its domestic participants.
The 2008 crisis impacted the U.S. resorts more than the European
ones. This is explained partly because of declining consumer confidence and
rising unemployment. On the other hand, winter sports in
the U.S. lead to greater mobility, the distances to the resorts being
larger, also causing longer stays. They are thus more sensitive to
budget cuts caused by the crisis. However, the ski areas of the East
Coast, closer to their catchments areas, were in a better position. To
attract customers, accommodations prices were reduced and numerous last minute offers proposed.
The number of foreign customers
who attended the U.S. resorts has also been on the decline, due to a
stronger dollar, in addition to the sluggish international economy.
However, the U.S. ski industry experienced a quick recovery during 2009/10 season.
With an attendance of 59.6 million skier visits, compared to 57.1 million skier visits recorded in 2008/09,
it is considered as the second best ever season. This performance is highly remarkable in a still weak
economic environment. Furthermore, snow and weather conditions were only average.
Apart from the 2008 crisis, highs and downs of the weather conditions have been modelling the shape of the evolution
over the years, more than anything else. The evolution of the skier visits up to the
beginning of the decade was just continuing a tendency that is already showed in this mature market since the end of the 1970’s.
However, things began to change over the last 5 years, where 3 seasons were very good, leading thus again to a growing tendency.
The 5-years average attendance has been slightly rising, further to the acknowledgement of the demographic issue and the set up of
the “Model for Growth”. It aims at addressing the aging of the population, the increasing proportion of ethnical minorities and the skier’s
retention scheme (increasing the interest of beginners, converting them into regular skiers and preventing regular skiers from abandoning). For several years now, measures have been taken in order to implement this “Model for Growth”, even if some drawbacks appeared and the U.S. industry still continues to have difficulties in extending its customer base. The results show that continuous efforts are required and their benefits are limited, so they need to be multiplied. With a market as big as Europe but only one third of the number of skier visits, the U.S. industry still seems to have some potential.
The good news for the U.S. ski industry is that the number of skiers is growing significantly, with an average increase of 1.2% over the last ten years.