Ski industry leaders tout record-breaking numbers for 2015-2016 season

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-02 20:11:19-04

SALT LAKE CITY – The numbers are in, and it looks like Utah set an all-time record for skier visits.

Ski Utah announced Thursday that the 2015-2016 ski season ended with a total of 4,457,575 skier days.

While Utah received some good snowfall this year, it wasn’t a record.

“We had a 5-foot storm over five days at Deer Valley, and I think it got up to 6 feet at Solitude. You can't ask for better timing there,” said Emily Summers, a Deer Valley Resort Communications Manager.

But ski industry leaders have plenty to celebrate.

“This year, I'm proud to announce that skier visits set an all-time record in Utah, almost 4.5 million skier days,” said Nathan Rafferty, President & CEO of Ski Utah.

That number is up nearly 5 percent from the previous record, which was set during the 2007-2008 season. Compared to other states in the Rocky Mountain Region, Utah skier visits were up 13 percent from last season.

“It was a collaborative effort, but we're excited about these big numbers,” Rafferty said.

Ski Utah leaders point to several reasons behind the boost.

For one, Park City and Canyons combined their resorts last year.

“Very encouraging to see people skiing back and forth there a ton,” Rafferty said.

Mother Nature delivered perfectly timed, early season storms to keep skiers on the slopes longer.

“We get a ton of snow," Rafferty said.  "We're fortunate to be able to open early, generally, and stay open late. Snowbird just closed last Monday."

They also attribute the increase to a massive marketing campaign from tourism leaders.

“Skiers come, and then they decide they want to come back and have the Mighty Five experience, Road to Mighty experience. They end up relocating their businesses here,” said Vicky Varela with the Utah Office of Tourism, Film, Global Branding. Mighty Five and Road to Mighty are ad campaigns touting state and national parks in Utah.

Resorts pouring over one hundred million dollars into their facilities also paid off.

“The capital improvements across Deer Valley, Solitude, Park City, Snowbird, just all came together at a pinnacle year,” Summers said.

The ski season may be over, but Utah resorts aren’t slowing down. They say they are dipping into summer recreation opportunities to keep crowds coming year round.