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SAM Magazine—Squaw Valley, Calif., Apr. 18, 2012—Below average snowfall and snowpack, combined with record-breaking warm temperatures, led to a 3.9 percent decline in occupancy at Western mountain destinations during March compared to the same month last year, according to the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). Similar declines were recorded for the season, with overall occupancy down by 2.3 percent through March.

MTRiP figures are based on results from 16 Western destinations in Colorado, Utah, California, and Oregon, and were presented today at the 37th annual Mountain Travel Symposium at Squaw Valley.

The 2011-12 season began strongly, said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP, thanks to the previous season’s above-average snowfalls and a strengthening economy. But this year’s weather gradually eroded those strengths.

“Pure destination guests, led by international visitors held up the best, while the local and regional skiers and boarders were more fickle and made fewer trips to the slopes,” said Garrison.

The average daily rate (ADR) inched up 1.7 percent in March compared to March 2011, and, aided by strong early-season demand, climbed 4.8 percent for winter 2011-12 (November through March) compared to 2010-11.

On an optimistic note, MTRiP said that on-the-books reservations are up 10.1 percent for arrivals in April-September, with every month but April currently up compared to the same time last year.