International Guests Boost Aspen Visits
SAM Magazine-Aspen, April 5, 2012-While many Colorado resorts experienced skier-day declines in the face of a warm, dry winter, Aspen/Snowmass saw visits increase through February, and they could end up for the season. The reason? Aspen's position as a true destination resort.
Through the beginning of March, Aspen room occupancy was up 8.4 percent over the 2010-11 ski season, with Snowmass occupancy up 12.5 percent. Skier visits were up 2.1 percent, while visits for Colorado resorts overall were down 7.8 percent over the same period, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.
Aspen Skiing Co. vice president David Perry credited international business, along with on-mountain operations that maintained ski conditions throughout the season, with helping Aspen buck the national trend, according to the Aspen Daily News. "Growth in international business has been huge. ... Having that diversification is important," he said.
"International business books early; even if snowfall isn't great, those visitors are going to come," spokesman Jeff Hanle told SAM. "We had good snow early, and hosted the World Cup [in late November], and that sends a huge snow message to Europe."
Bill Tomcich, president of the central reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, credited new flights to Aspen from Los Angeles as well as international visits.
March occupancy rates, which are not yet available, are expected to decline by 3 to 4 percent industry-wide, and Aspen likely reflected that trend-international visits typically tail off in March, Tomcich said. But Hanle noted that international visits, especially from Mexico, are expected to fuel a strong April, particularly through Easter.