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SAM Magazine—Denver, Nov. 21, 3012—Occupancy at Western destination resorts was up 6.9 percent for the past spring and summer compared to year-earlier totals, and the daily rate rose 3.9 percent. But momentum has reversed for the upcoming winter, according to the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). As of Oct. 31, reservations for the coming season, November through April, were down 3.9 percent compared to last winter.

MTRiP data reflect activity at 260 property management companies in 16 mountain destination communities across Colorado, Utah, California and Oregon.

What’s behind the shift? A sluggish economy and concern over the “fiscal cliff,” along with weather patterns and snowfall, said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP. “While resorts are opening on schedule, no major winter weather event has yet sent a compelling message, leaving consumers not yet convinced that this year is destined to be better than last year,” he noted. Also, reservations at this time a year ago were strong, following the record-setting 2010-11 season.

In the short term, reservations for November are up 10.3 percent. But the critical month of December is down12.4 percent compared to 2011. Mid season reservations are stronger, especially for February, Garrison added.