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Utah ski resorts have near-record season

By Keith McCord | Posted - Jul. 6, 2011 at 7:10 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- For weeks we've been talking about the effects of the longer-than-normal wet and cold spring. It certainly has played a role in Utah's outdoor recreation and tourism industry.

As you might expect, the ski resorts are very happy because they had an extended season this year. Jessica Kunzer, Ski Utah's Director of Communications enthusiastically put it this way: "Wonderful is an excellent way to describe this season. It was pretty fantastic."

Our research suggests that there was about $1.17 billion spent by skiers and snowboarders in Utah this year.

–- Jessica Kunzer, Director of Communications, Ski Utah

It was indeed. Any time a ski area can stay open and attract a few thousand people as late as July 4th, as Snowbird did this year, that's grounds for some bragging rights.

"The last time that happened", Kunzer says, that they were able to stay open through the 4th was 2004-05. It's happened 3 times in the past 39 years."

Fact is Utah's entire ski industry can proudly boast a successful season. The state's 14 resorts saw 4.2-million skier visits, which is up more than 4 percent over last year, and the second all-time highest. That's a huge economic impact.

"Our research suggests that there was about $1.17-billion spent by skiers and snowboarders in Utah this year," says Kunzer. That's money spent on lift tickets, restaurants, hotels retail and transportation services, she says.

Even though the long-lasting snow made the winter season very successful, it has caused a slight delay in the summer activities, especially in northern Utah. High mountain passes weren't cleared of the deep snow until recently, keeping campers and hikers out. According to Tracie Cayford, Deputy Director of the Utah Office of Tourism, the latest figures show visitation to state parks, for the moment, is down.

"It was a little bit harder for Northern Utah to thaw out. State Park visitation is down about 5% for the month of May. It'll be a bit before we see the June numbers", she says. "But it will be a challenge to make up for some of those numbers at the state parks. We've had wet springs before and of course the weather is beautiful now, and hopefully we can make up for some of those numbers."

To give people a nudge, the Utah Office of Tourism is running a public service campaign featuring Governor Herbert urging Utahns to get out and enjoy the state. Standing on the capitol steps overlooking the city, the governor says: "Summer is finally here, and it's time to get out and enjoy Utah's five national parks, our 43 state parks and our other scenic and recreational assets. Utah's great outdoors offer a great value for family vacations."


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Keith McCord


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