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Ski resorts banking on key MLK weekend traffic

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 6:40 PM EST
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PERU, Vt. (WCAX) - Area ski resorts are looking for a boost this MLK weekend, the second leg of the so-called triple crown of revenue-making weekends, but a warmer than usual winter and pandemic restrictions are shredding into the bottom line of some mountains.

“It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure,” says Bill Carins, Bromley Mountain’s president and general manager. Skier visits are down 50 to 60 percent at the southern Vermont resort. “With cross-state travel being an effect, it’s had a dramatic effect on the amount of people who can come here and ski. Some regular skiers that I know of personally are not with us this winter,” Cairns said.

Bromley isn’t alone with resorts across the state reporting visits down 30 to 70 percent. “We have seen a decrease in the number of skier and rider visits this year so far. I think it is largely because of the pandemic. People have changed their lifestyles in a lot of different ways,” said Adam White with the Vermont Ski Areas Association. He says about three-quarters of the skiers and riders resorts depend on are from out of state. And while parking lots still reveal visitors from outside Vermont, state travel data indicates that overall interstate travel is down dramatically since the pandemic began. State modeling indicates holiday and ski travel is half of what it was last year.

“Almost all winters are challenging. You throw on the restrictions associated with COVID and the challenges that posed with a mild winter, so as operators, I think all of us have had our hands full,” Cairns said. Friday was Bromley’s 31st day of operation. In a typical year, they would be over 50 days by now.

“The ski industry in Vermont is resilient. It’s had to deal with a lot of adversity weather-wise in the past few years. It’s been very unpredictable,” White said.

Cairns says he’s looking forward to MLK weekend, the second-biggest weekend of the ski and ride season. “If we can pick up any snow, it would make for a great Sunday and Monday,” he said.

Resorts hope to see more natural snow between MLK weekend and President’s Day, the last big weekend of skiing when resorts typically assess how their season went.

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