The 2021-22 skiing and riding season greeted us with fewer pandemic restrictions. The results were mixed.
The state of Vermont, where COVID travel restrictions were the most stringent in New England over the course of the 2020-21 winter, saw an increase of 6.5 percent in skier visits this past season, according to the Vermont Ski Areas Association. That’s a nice rebound for a state that had suffered a significant drop in visits the previous year.
Next door in New Hampshire, however, things weren’t as rosy. Ski New Hampshire, New Hampshire’s ski industry trade association, announced a three percent decrease in winter sports at the state’s 32 downhill and cross-country ski areas for the 2021-22 season.
The numbers were announced at each trade group’s annual meeting earlier this month.
“There was definitely a lot of demand, and I heard anecdotally from numerous ski areas that season pass sales were up substantially,” Ski New Hampshire president Jessyca Keeler said. “But weather was really the biggest driving factor impacting visitation. Several ski areas that open before or during Thanksgiving week had to push their opening dates back by a week due to unseasonably warm weather. Throughout the state, we experienced a lot fluctuating temperatures and a relatively warm winter from around February vacation until the end of the season. Rain events were also relatively common this past season and that certainly put a damper on visitation.”
While total alpine visits were down three percent in the Granite State from 2020-21, cross-country visits came in at two percent above last year’s numbers. Tubing visits were off the most — seven percent lower.
Compared to a 10-year average, alpine skier visits were off four percent, cross-country areas were off by 10 percent, and tubing visits were up one percent.
Across all activities in New Hampshire, business was down three percent.
In Vermont, the spike in business was a healthy sign that the state’s $1.6 billion ski industry would rebound from the closure of the Canadian border and its own self-imposed testing requirements for visitors. Those factors helped lead to an estimated 30 percent overall drop-off in revenue, with losses estimated at $100 million.
“Vermont’s ski industry has faced monumental pandemic-related challenges over the past few seasons, but our ski areas have shown incredible perseverance, resourcefulness, and resiliency in continuing to offer the skiing and riding experience for which Vermont is renowned,” said Ski Vermont President Molly Mahar. “Even with last winter’s inconsistent weather, we still saw a solid rebound in business. Our member areas are committed to providing guests with the best possible experience, and as an industry we’re also working to address the barriers keeping would-be skiers from the sport.”
Elsewhere, it was a record-breaking season. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reported record visitation at U.S. ski areas for the 2021-22 season, with a total of 61 million skier visits. That was an increase of 3.5 percent over last season’s national number.