The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Vermont Ski Areas celebrate banner year with 4.5 million visits, best since 2001

At the Vermont Ski Areas Association annual meeting at Stowe Mountain Resort, June 4, the state's resorts celebrated the best season since 2001 with 4,513,041 skier/rider visits, up 16 percent over last year.

This also marks the second best season on record since VSAA began collecting resort data in 1992. Nationally, skier/rider visits had the biggest one-year leap in 30 years, with the Northeast posting the biggest gains in the country. The season tally once again ranks Vermont number one in the East and third nationwide for skiing and riding, behind only Colorado and California.

"The 2012-13 season stands as a remarkable rebound from the prior year with record early openings thanks to our 80% snowmaking coverage, perfectly timed snow for the holidays, blizzard snowfall that buried our core markets' backyards and an epic March that we haven't seen in years," said VSAA president Parker Riehle. "In addition, the phenomenal winter season meant over $170 million in revenues for the state's tourism-dependent economy from the rooms & meals and sales taxes, surpassing pre-recession levels for the first time. The month of March was truly astounding, accounting for a 14% increase in the rooms & meals tax revenue over the previous year and providing a critical boost to revenues that enabled the legislature to take numerous tax increase proposals off the table."

At the annual gathering, with a record attendance of more than 300 industry members and marketing partners, Governor Shumlin gave opening remarks and NSAA President Michael Berry presented the national perspective and continued efforts to convert new participants into skiing and riding. Jay Peak Resort president Bill Stenger was presented with the Industry Achievement Award, and Jeff Boliba, VP of Global Resorts at Burton Snowboards, received the Friend of the Industry Award. The Career Employee Awards were presented to two longtime ski area employees at Okemo Mountain Resort - Barry Tucker and Barbara Johnston.

In addition, the industry gathering celebrated an impressive array of state and national awards for marketing and environmental excellence:

National Ski Areas Association Awards
Jay Peak:  Best Efficiency Program for Facilities
Killington:  NSAA Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence
Killington:  NSAA Marketing Award for Best Use of Video
Mount Snow:  Dan Cherkis, NSAA Phat Cat Groomer Challenge Winner

VSAA Green Mountain Awards
Bolton Valley:  Greenest Alternative Energy Program
Killington:  Most Creative Environmental Program
Smugglers' Notch:  Best Green Up Day Participation Program
Stowe:  Greenest Overall Resort
Stowe:  Greenest Water Treatment Program
Stratton:  Greenest Recycling Program
Sugarbush:  Best Efficiency Snowmaking Upgrade

Ski Vermont (Vermont Ski Areas Association) is a proud ambassador of the thriving winter tourism industry in Vermont, where the legislature has designated skiing and snowboarding as the official state sports. Vermont is not only the #1 ski state in the east and third in the US, but also reigns supreme in snowmaking quality and coverage, variety of terrain and historical impact on the sports of skiing and snowboarding - making it one of the most significant ski and ride destinations in the world. Ski Vermont's mission is to help create a legislative, economic and social environment in which the state's ski areas can grow and prosper. It serves its 18 Alpine and 31 Nordic member resorts in three major areas: Governmental Affairs, Marketing and Public Affairs.