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Ski Industry Could Be Facing A Long-Term Decline In Visitors

DENVER (CBS4) - Colorado's ski industry generates $3 billion to the state's economy, and after a tough year in 2011 to 2012, things did improve this past season. But CBS4's news partners at the Denver Business Journal report the industry could be facing a long-term decline in skiers.

Ed Sealover from the DBJ stopped by CBS4 studios to talk about the report. He said 57.1 million people visited the ski slopes throughout the U.S. this past season.

"What they're worried about is figures that show if they lose new skiers at the current rate it could be down to 45.3 million by 2030, which is a pretty serious decline for an industry that really relies on numbers coming up there," Sealover said.

He said there are several reasons for the decline.

"The number of new skiers is dropping off about 3 percent a year; people aren't going back and trying it as much. You are seeing Gen X skiers that are going for less days. Snowboarders that went about 7.5 days a year 15 years ago are going less than 6 days a year," Sealover said.

He said maybe the biggest concern is that woman in the 40- to 59-year-old range, heads of households, are dropping off greatly from women of earlier ages.

"And when they don't go to the ski slopes, they don't bring kids and they don't bring the new generation of skiers that they desperately need to keep the numbers up."

One thing the industry is working on to lure people back to the slopes is finding a new price point. Right now skiers can get a day at the slopes for about $100, or get a season pass, but that can cost upwards of $500.

"What they want is something to get people there a couple of times. We're seeing more of these 3- and 4-day passes, either to one resort or multiple resorts, and they think that is a way that will draw people in."

Sealover said the resorts also want to find something to do about Interstate 70.

"This is a question without an answer at this point. But it's not just the price point that is driving people away, it's the time requirement that's driving people away."

Another thing Sealover said the ski resorts may try is offering passes at stores such as Costco and Walmart to get people who typically don't go to sports shops up to the slopes.

Read more on the website of CBS4 partner the Denver Business Journal.

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