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Ten Surprising Facts About the Ski Industry

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I found this online and thought it was interesting:

#1. La Plagne is the world’s most popular ski resort with over 2.5 million skier visits per year.
#2. 48 ski resorts recive over 1 million skier visits per season.
#3. There are 2,106 established ski areas.
#4. 48% of ski areas are located within Europe.
#5. 75% of the world top 50 ski areas are located in the Alps.
#6. Japan has 547 ski areas.
#7. Whistler is North America’s most popular ski resort but only 9th worldwide.
#8. Breckenridge is the United States most visited ski resort.
#9. There are approximately 400 million skier visits worldwide per year.
#10. As of March 2013 there are 26,764 ski lifts in the world.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
Interesting.

I'm sure there are many NA people that haven't heard of La Plagne, just like many Europeans that haven't heard of Breck.

I find that Breck is the most visited in US interesting. Eastern resorts have a higher population to draw from. So I would have thought that Killington or Stowe would have been tops. And I don't think of Breck as a destination resort like the Aspen's or Vail's of the ski world. I think of it as one of the resorts to go to if I've got a week in Summit County.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I disagree, Jilly. I think that Breckenridge is definitely a destination resort -- and a big one -- at least within the US. Loads of people from the east go there every winter, and I've meet lots of people there from all over the place (I've been there probably five times, myself). Sure, Killington and Stowe are big, but just on the east coast. I don't think people travel there from all over.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
Yeah - I know a lot of people who live either in the Midwest or East Coast and actually have season passes here in Utah for example. Even if it takes just a few hours to drive to Killington (or whatever their local big resort is), they can hop on a plane and get to a bigger mountain with (generally) better snow) in the same amount of time or less. And I do think the Colorado destination resorts are more widely known than the Utah ones, even when they are in reality harder to access. So a lot of people go to the places they've heard of. And while I bet Aspen might come up as one of the most recognizable names, I think it's also associated with being very glamorous and expensive, while Breckenridge sounds more family oriented and reasonable. I know when I think of Vail the first thing that pops into my mind is that it's expensive to park, let alone ski. And I haven't even been there in the winter, I've just heard that from other people.

I'm not saying the above judgments are true, but I'm guessing they are pretty typical assumptions and that kind of thing affects where out of town people choose to spend their vacations. Just like I know there are still loads of people who think the liquor laws in Utah are going to affect them and they stay away. I don't know how that would actually be true for anyone, but I know the idea of it affects people planning vacations sometimes.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The fact that plane fares to Denver are relatively low compared to SLC or Reno (for Tahoe) definitely influences people who fly for ski trips to the Rockies. On the regional ski forums in the southeast and mid-atlantic even the regular posters who have skied in Utah choose to fly to Denver more often.
Seems like I often read warnings about lift lines when a newbie asks about going to Breck during a school vacation week. Is lodging in/near Breck lower than for other CO destination ski resorts?
 

Mrs Hutchins

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Seems like I often read warnings about lift lines when a newbie asks about going to Breck during a school vacation week. Is lodging in/near Breck lower than for other CO destination ski resorts?

When we skied out west, we actually found the lodging for Breck less expensive only than Vail. We ended up staying at Keystone which was quite nice.

I also find it interesting that Breck is a top resort for the US, but not altogether that surprising. I agree with altagirl, it is very family oriented and a little more 'down to earth' than the other resorts in the area. I'm from New England and everyone I know that skis out here and has been out west has ended up at Breck for at least a day. We did a day at Breck when we went to Keystone, and it was fantastic (this may have been due to the insane snow that we got all day). I think it's pretty common for 'easterners' to trek to the west to ski, but less popular for people who live in the west to travel out east for our ice and boiler-plate.
 

pinto

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Yeah, I'm not sure why Breck is so popular, except that there is a great town (ie, a real town) there , and it was the first major resort in the Summit area (predated Vail as well), and all the Texans like to go there. Lots of beginner/intermediate skiing, which is always good for tourists.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, I'm not sure why Breck is so popular, except that there is a great town (ie, a real town) there , and it was the first major resort in the Summit area (predated Vail as well), and all the Texans like to go there. Lots of beginner/intermediate skiing, which is always good for tourists.


It's the easiest Summit-area resort to get to from the Springs, too, so maybe they get a little more slammed with Front Range visitors?

I *am* kind of surprised Breck gets more visits than the popular East Coast places. When you take the NY & Boston metro areas together you're talking about something like 25 million people within easy weekend driving distance. I guess Breck is so much bigger than Killington that K might feel more crowded but has fewer skiers overall. Also, I guess Breck has a steady baseline of long-distance tourists that you don't really get on the east coast.

(I just checked -- Killington is about 750 acres vs about 2300 for Breck. Ha.)
 

pinto

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It's the easiest Summit-area resort to get to from the Springs, too, so maybe they get a little more slammed with Front Range visitors?

I *am* kind of surprised Breck gets more visits than the popular East Coast places. When you take the NY & Boston metro areas together you're talking about something like 25 million people within easy weekend driving distance. I guess Breck is so much bigger than Killington that K might feel more crowded but has fewer skiers overall. Also, I guess Breck has a steady baseline of long-distance tourists that you don't really get on the east coast.

(I just checked -- Killington is about 750 acres vs about 2300 for Breck. Ha.)

These stats are from 10 years ago, or so, but apparently no one from CO goes to Breck. :smile:


The international market represents about 7.2 percent of Breckenridge's visitors on a year-round basis (9.6 percent in winter and 4.8 percent in summer).

Out of state -- Out of state (OOS) visitation remains the bread-and-butter market. OOS represents 71.8 percent of Breckenridge visitors on a year-round basis (72.3 percent in winter and 71 percent in summer).

https://www.summitdaily.com/article/20040917/COLUMNS/109170006
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
When we skied out west, we actually found the lodging for Breck less expensive only than Vail. We ended up staying at Keystone which was quite nice.


That's kind of what I was pondering in my post earlier - that it's perception more than anything. They're not necessarily cheaper in reality, but I would suspect that most people would guess that they are cheaper than Aspen, for instance. And I have a feeling that the majority of tourists don't take the time to really price compare a lot of resorts, so perception is probably more important than reality. Aspen gets portrayed as the Hollywood place to go (even if only by movies and the media and not themselves), and Breckenridge sells itself as more laid back and family oriented. So it doesn't matter which one is ACTUALLY more expensive if more tourists just book vacations to Breckenridge without price shopping because they perceive themselves to be going somewhere more reasonably priced.
 

pinto

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm pretty sure Aspen and Vail are still on the whole more $$ than Breckenridge. Breck is no budget resort, to be sure, but there are just more options.
 

abc

Banned
Are we sure of the "fact" about Breck being the most visited resort in the US? What's the source of that?

When something posted on the internet doesn't agree with common impression, the first thing to check is whether the data is correct. Anyone and everyone can post on the internet. If the data is indeed from a reliable source, we should be able to also get the actual figure, like how many million of visits last year and the year before, etc...
 

pinto

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Are we sure of the "fact" about Breck being the most visited resort in the US? What's the source of that?

When something posted on the internet doesn't agree with common impression, the first thing to check is whether the data is correct. Anyone and everyone can post on the internet. If the data is indeed from a reliable source, we should be able to also get the actual figure, like how many million of visits last year and the year before, etc...


Yeah, I've read this many many times before, so it does agree with what I think to be true. The only real competition Breck has is Vail, but according to this article (which shared its methodology), they both were still waaaay ahead of no. 3, Mammoth.

https://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-most-visited-ski-resorts/1
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Even if it takes just a few hours to drive to Killington (or whatever their local big resort is), they can hop on a plane and get to a bigger mountain with (generally) better snow) in the same amount of time or less.


For sure. I grew up living/skiing in New England, but if I'm going to fly someplace to ski, it'll more often be west, rather than north.

Flying to SLC, though, is easier for me than Denver, for what that's worth...and then of course the access after arriving is pretty obvious.
 

tjm235

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
According to the article cited by Ski Diva, Mammoth is actually ahead of Vail for 2013.


I think at least for the CO resorts, I can pretty confidently say that list is outdated by at least a few years. I know Vail and Breck still trade off the top spot in CO, but as far as I'm aware Vail Resorts doesn't publish their skier visits anymore for any of their mountains. Colorado Ski Country used to publish totals from their member resorts, but they haven't done that in a while. Furthermore, I know for a 110% fact that one resort on that list is completely wrong.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
For sure. I grew up living/skiing in New England, but if I'm going to fly someplace to ski, it'll more often be west, rather than north.


Well, yeah, once you get too far south of the NYC metro area the travel times get more interesting in terms of where you're gonna go, but from NYC I could be at Mt. Snow in 4 hours door to door for a net cost of like $150 for a weekend. I mean, there are people in the northeast (I used to be one) that ski 3 out of 4 weekends in VT/NH. For long weekend+ trips, yeah, I was getting on a plane, but not for normal weekends.

What would be interesting to see is a chart of something like average skiers / acre. The east coast would win that one, hands down. :smile: (Not that that's anything to brag about...)
 

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