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The United States ski resorts market has endured hardship as industry demand halted in 2009, and a weak recovery has resulted in slow growth over the past two years.
Families and individuals have been forced to cut back on their winter vacation budgets due to a rise in unemployment and a subsequent fall in disposable income.
Disposable income declined 3.6% in 2009, causing industry revenue to fall 6.4%. Despite the decline, the industry grew on average 1.4% per year, over the five years to 2012.
The industry continues to undergo consolidation as large operators buy up individual ski resorts or send small operators out of business. The industry is highly competitive, and the credit crunch has hurt some of the smaller resort operators, which have less access to capital than well-funded operators, such as Vail and Intrawest.
Some western resorts are reporting a rise in early-season bookings from their international clientele, as well as better reservation and occupancy rates - although that news may be influenced by lower room fees.
US ski facilities usually dominate their local economies. The industry has approximately 400 companies that operate around 450 ski areas. About two-thirds of the industry's revenue comes from facility entrance and usage fees, with the rest from sales of merchandise, food and beverages, equipment rentals, and skiing or snowboarding lessons.
The US ski resorts industry is highly vulnerable not only to spending patterns, but also to climate change. This raises some concern about the future for ski resorts. Industry operators have responded by initiating various programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and educating their visitors to do the same.
The National Ski Areas Association has led this movement with its Environmental Charter, which outlines guidelines and best practices for ski resort operation. Larger companies, such as Vail, are also expected to continue adding snowmaking capabilities to limit their risk in the industry.
Improved technology, energy efficiency and demand will result in revenue growth over the next five years, with revenue predicted to grow on average 2.4% per year to $2.9 billion.
For more information on the US ski resorts market, see the latest research: US Ski Resorts Market
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