Skier visits up during pandemic at California, Nevada resorts

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — California and Nevada ski resorts had more visitors last season during the pandemic than the year before, according to a report produced for the National Ski Areas Association.

Visits were up nearly 22% as compared to 2019-2020 with 6,753,303 estimated visitors to downhill ski areas, said an RRC Associates report.

In a state-by-state ranking, this result positions California as the second most visited state for skiing and riding in terms of visitation, trailing Colorado.

“The thoughtful, detailed planning and preparation that went into last season paid off in so many ways,” said Ski California President Michael Reitzel in a press release. “Resorts were able to offer a full season of outdoor recreation, and skiers and riders had access to something they love to do. The increase in visitation that Ski California resorts saw points to what we had anticipated — people wanted to feel a sense of normalcy and actively sought out ways to safely spend time outdoors.”

Ahead of the 2020-21 season, Ski California member resorts implemented new policies, procedures and experiences aimed at maintaining public health and safety that adhered to federal, state and local guidance. Resorts invested millions of dollars in COVID-19 safety, including new technologies and sanitization procedures designed to aid with physical distancing and public health, and to reduce contact points throughout the resort.

This included things like RFID ticketing and scanning, online food and beverage ordering, and online advance purchase of everything from lift tickets to lessons and equipment rentals.

Other interesting results from the 2020-21 season reported by resorts in the Pacific Southwest (California, Nevada and Arizona) outlined in the report included:

• Average of 134 days open (above 10-year average of 126; fourth best in last 10 years)

• 91% of resorts opened early or on time versus 48% of national average

• Only 5% closed early, 55% on time, 41% closed late

• 58% of visits from season passholders (highest ever), 34% from day tickets (lowest ever)

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