Winter 2020-21 brought record visits to Idaho ski areas

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, ski areas in Idaho saw record skier and snowboarder visits during the 2020-21 winter according to an economic impact report that Ski Idaho ordered from Boulder, Colorado. RRC Associates firm.

Idaho ski areas recorded 2.15 million skier and snowboarder visits during the 2020-21 winter, surpassing its previous record of 1.88 million set during the winter of 2020-21 by 14.3%. pre-COVID winter 2018-19 and extending what Ski Idaho President and Bogus Basin General Manager Brad Wilson says is a long-term growth trend. The COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2019-20 winter ski season, and visits to Idaho ski destinations dropped to 1.63 million.

“It didn’t take long for ski areas in Idaho to respond and bounce back from COVID,” Wilson said. “After nine months of social distancing, people were eager to get out, and many of them discovered how wonderful it is to spend time skiing and snowboarding outdoors in Idaho.”

RRC also found that ski areas in Idaho enjoyed a slightly increasing share of visits from skiers and snowboarders from the western United States, peaking at 6.2% in winter 2020-21, the most recent ski season for which data is available. The study also found that Idaho ski areas account for a growing share of skier and snowboarder visits nationwide, reaching 3.6% in the winter of 2020-21.


Idaho is the fifth highest state in terms of ski days per capita, with an index of 362, which means that Idahoans enjoy 3.62 times more ski days per capita than the mean. The only states with more
skier visit indices are Vermont (655), Colorado (518), Utah (401) and New Hampshire (399).

About 140,000 to 160,000 Idaho residents, or 7% to 8% of the state’s population, go downhill skiing or snowboarding in any given season.


Skiers and snowboarders spent a total of $309 million in Idaho during the 2020-21 winter – $151 million (49%) at Idaho ski areas and $159 million ( 51%) in other companies. The industry also directly or indirectly generated $309 million in gross domestic product in Idaho, or 0.33% of Idaho’s GDP in 2021.

Meanwhile, total economic output in fiscal year 2020-21 reached $584 million, up 37% from $425 million in fiscal year 2016-2017. This included $350 million in direct production (compared to $253 million in fiscal year 2016-17) and $233 million in indirect and induced production (compared to $172 million in fiscal year 2016-17). ).

Indirect effects are the economic effects arising from business-to-business purchases in the supply chain. Induced effects are the economic effects arising from household expenditures on labor income
after removing taxes, savings and commuter income.

Between winter 2016-17 and winter 2020-21, ski area operators in Idaho saw demand for lift tickets, season passes and rentals jump 41% and 29%, respectively. However, COVID-19 stalled price growth over the same period at 3%, while accommodation and foodservice operations each grew at a slow rate of 12%.

Meanwhile, summer operations in 2020 decreased by 4% compared to summer 2016, from $42.6 million to $41.0 million, respectively, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capital expenditures for fiscal year 2020-21 increased by 265% from fiscal year 2016-2017 to $67.9 million from $18.6 million, respectively. Investment in new and upgraded lifts increased by 232% and spending on facilities and support specific to summer and fall jumped by 267%. Real estate, however, was the undisputed leader, soaring nearly 3,000% from $1.6 million invested in the 2016-17 financial year to $48.9 million in the year. financial year 2020-21.

All of this economic activity translated into 5,703 full-year equivalent jobs in fiscal year 2020-21 – 4,266 direct jobs and an additional 1,437 indirect and induced jobs. This represents a growth of 7% since the financial year
5,345 jobs in total in 2016-2017.

Skiing and snowboarding generated $170 million in labor income, including $108 million directly and $61 million through a multiplier effect. This represents a growth of 26% compared to the 2016-17 financial year.
$135 million in labor income. Labor income includes all forms of employment income, including wages, benefits, and owner’s income.

The report also noted that the state’s thriving ski and snowboarding industry helps balance Idaho’s summer-dominated travel industry seasons, contributes significantly to its quality of life and
likely improves employee recruitment and retention in Idaho businesses.


Just over half of Idaho’s winter 2020-21 ski area visitors — 52.5% — resided in the Gem State and 47.5% came from out of state.

Boise’s large designated market area accounted for nearly a third of all skier visits this season – 30.1%. The Spokane DMA, which includes much of northern Idaho, accounted for more
more than a sixth of visits at 17.2%. The DMAs of Idaho Falls/Pocatello, Seattle/Tacoma and Twin Falls, Idaho collectively accounted for another fifth of visits at 7.5%, 6.4% and 5.8%, respectively.

Salt Lake City at 3.6%, Los Angeles at 2.3%, San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose at 2.0%, Portland at 1.7% and New York City at 1.5%. Missoula, Montana accounted for 1.4% of visitors and Denver for 1.1%, while Chicago and the Washington State Tri-Cities area each offered 0.9%. The area encompassing Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto, Calif., accounted for 0.7% of Idaho skier visits in 2020-21, and all other U.S. and international markets accounted for the remaining 16.1%.


Skiers and snowboarders in Idaho were generally male, accounting for 58% of visits to ski resorts compared to 42% for females. A third were young (18% are 12 or younger and 14% are between 13 and 17), about a fifth were between 18 and 34 (7% are between 18 and 24 and 12% are between 25 and 34 years), almost a third were between 35 and 54 years old (15% are between 35 and 44 years old and 15% are between 45 and 54 years old), and another fifth were 55 years old or older (12% are between 55 and 64 years old, 6% are between 65 and 74 years old and 1% are 75 years old or more).

Among survey respondents aged 18 or older, households with children contributed the most visits from skiers and snowboarders at 39%, and households with children are no longer at home
ranked number two at 21%. Couples without children accounted for 16% of visits and singles without children accounted for the remaining 20%.

Skiers visiting Idaho have a range of incomes but are quite wealthy. A third, 34%, enjoyed an annual pre-tax family income of $100,000 to $199,999. A quarter, 24%, earned between $50,000 and $99,999.
Those filing less than $50,000 made up 20% and those filing $200,000 or more per year made up the remaining 22%.


The bulk of visits to Idaho ski resorts – 62% – were made by season pass holders. Daily and multi-day passes accounted for 33% of visits, with after-hours employee visits and complimentary tickets accounting for
3% and 2%, respectively.

Nearly three-quarters of visitors — 72% — used downhill ski equipment and a quarter — 25% — used snowboards. Other equipment like alpine touring and snowmobiles accounted for 2% and 1% of visitors used telemark equipment. About half – 48% – considered themselves to be advanced or expert skiers or snowboarders and almost as many – 44% – considered themselves to be of intermediate ability. Only 6% of visitors surveyed were beginners and only 2% were first-time buyers.

Two-thirds – 66% – had visited their main ski area in the previous five winters and a third of winter visitors – 33% – had visited the destination in the last five summers.

Just over half of visits — 56% — were day trips and 44% were overnight stays. Most overnight visitors – 61% – stayed in paid accommodation and 11% stayed in an owner-owned vacation home.

Wilson of Ski Idaho was pleased to learn that visitors to the Gem State ski area tend to express high satisfaction with their experience. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being extremely dissatisfied and 10 being extremely
satisfied), Idaho ski areas scored 9.5 for overall employee service, 9.2 for overall lesson experience, 9.1 for quality of grooming, 9.0 for overall food and drink, 8.7 for overall value for money,
and 8.4 in overall rental experience.

“Whether it’s a world-class resort like Sun Valley or a family-friendly ski area, the quality of our mountain experience paired with true Idaho friendliness is unparalleled,” Wilson said. “Combine
do this with our short lift lines and affordable lift tickets and you would. struggling to find a better ski and snowboard destination than Idaho.”

You can view a copy of the research report HERE.

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