After increased diversity in the clientele of ski resorts in 2020, the ski industry is hopeful in its projections for 2021. Skiers are expected to join a larger crowd at ski resorts this winter as vaccines are doled out.
Open skies, healthy lives
The ski industry has seen an increase in the number of skiers due to the activity’s adaptability to COVID-19 restrictions. As restrictions over indoor activities became more prominent, outdoor activities that reduced the chances of the virus’s transmission were encouraged as a safe escape during the pandemic. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) even released general guidelines for ski resorts to be uniformly compliant with the COVID-19 restrictions by incorporating best practices into their plans.
Based on the report by the NSAA, ski resorts are venues that are relatively safer for people to visit during the pandemic. Aside from being mostly made of open spaces, the standard gear that skiers already use is added protection from the virus, such as masks and helmets.
They also noted that ski resorts have already incorporated touchless transactions before the pandemic, decreasing the chances of contact with other people. During certain activities on the slopes, skiers were already advised to maintain distance for their own safety. The already existing physical distance between skiers while partaking in certain activities will further reduce the risk of transmission.
When health became a higher priority for people during the pandemic, skiing also became an option for physical activity outdoors. Physical activity makes the immune system stronger, reduces the risk of heart disease, and improves overall mental health.
The ski Industry in 2020 and 2021
On top of the advantages the ski industry already had for enticing eager people to try skiing for the first time, the NSAA’s guide for best practices during the pandemic would have ensured the safety of everyone at the resorts. However, an impact of the pandemic saw a reduction in the rentals of ski equipment. As a result, there was an increase in the purchase of skiing equipment.
The decrease in rentals paired with a more diversified clientele (both in age and race) saw a spike in the overall ski industry. For example, parents would purchase Spyder kids’ ski pants to make sure that their kids have something safe under their coats when they take them out for a ski trip. These purchases can be justified as the visits to ski resorts become more frequent throughout the season. In an incessantly home-based life, many sought an out to the mundane, and the surge in ski trips and outdoor gear purchases in 2020 made sense.
In 2021, the market value of winter sports equipment is expected to increase by $834.99 million. This projection is due to the added traffic that vaccinated patrons for ski resorts can bring, as skiing in North America and Europe are driving factors for the increase.
As COVID-19 cases in the country reach a turning point for the better, it is no surprise that more people end up on the slopes when winter arrives.
A luxury sport no more?
One of the concerns with skiing in the past and why the industry celebrated a more diverse clientele last year is that skiing was branded as a luxury sport. At an average of $2,000 per kit, excluding a lift pass, it is not a surprise why people tend to dismiss it as such. It was even found to be racist, with calls to become more inclusive for rich, non-whites. There were even usual attempts to remove the middle class from its market completely by the frequent increases in prices, justified by the development of the amenities in ski resorts.
But the pandemic saw to it that the ski industry learned its lesson. The surge in visitors and purchases of season passes encouraged competition among resorts, with some slashing their prices by 20% to attract more customers. Even before the pandemic hit, some certain ski resorts also try to fight back against elitism in the industry by undercutting the competition and encouraging first-time skiers to buy season passes.
Although there is an expected rise in the number of skiers in 2021, the fate of the accessibility of skiing is solely up to the owners of these ski resorts. They have an ultimate say in how the market prices the activity, either going along with it or maintaining what has been for the activity. Aspiring enthusiasts of the sport can only hope that it can become more affordable overall in the long run for everyone to experience the thrill of sliding down the snow.