Warm winter weather cut skier visits in half in parts of the Pacific Northwest last season, even as skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes in near-record numbers in other parts of the country.
BEND, Ore. — Warm winter weather cut skier visits in half in parts of the Pacific Northwest last season, even as skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes in near-record numbers in other parts of the country.
There were an estimated 56.9 million skier visits nationwide in 2004-2005, down only about 0.3 percent from the previous season, according to a national end-of-season survey prepared for the National Ski Areas Association.
Last season’s count fell 1.2 percent shy of the 57.6 million skier visits tallied in 2002-2003, the most ever recorded in the 26-year history of the survey.
But in what the survey identifies as the Pacific West — which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — skier visits dropped 11.4 percent from the previous season.
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Most of that can be attributed to warm weather in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and parts of Northern California, where skier visits were down by as much as 55 percent, according to the report.
Resort hotels in Deschutes County felt the decline in skiers and snowboarders, said Alana Audette, president and chief executive officer of the Central Oregon Visitors Association.
County room-tax revenues collected in February were down about 14 percent compared to February of 2004, according to figures provided by the visitors’ association. April revenue slipped about 2 percent from the previous year.
Mount Bachelor received about 200 inches of snow last season — about half its annual average.
Skier visits contribute immediate economic impacts such as jobs and tax revenue, said Robert Whelan, senior economist at ECONorthwest, a Eugene-based consulting firm.
“It exposes the community to a relatively affluent and investor class of people who otherwise would have never been to Bend in the first place,” Whelan said.