Vermont ski resorts lose roughly $100 million this winter

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont ski resorts lost an estimated $100 million this winter during the pandemic, according to the Vermont Ski Areas Association.

State officials estimate that equates to $700 million in losses for the economy, the Rutland Herald reported.

“I think we are just beginning to see what the long-term effects of the pandemic will be,” Vermont Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Heather Pelham told the newspaper. “We do expect economic recovery will take several years. I don’t think the economic impacts on our restaurants and innkeepers can be understated.”

Season pass holders got to the resorts more, and sales of those passes were up at some areas, but ticket-buying skier visits were down about 40% through the end February, said VSAA president Molly Mahar. Lodging revenue dropped by 60% and food and beverage revenue was down by 70%, Mahar said.

“Even on a day we had a lot of skiers, you’d go into the cafeteria and there were crickets,” Bolton Valley Resort President Lindsay DesLauriers said. “There was no way around that. There was no way around taking a hit.”

Mahar acknowledged doubts that skiers visiting from out-of-state were complying with Vermont’s quarantine rules.

“It was a difficult thing to enforce,” she said. “If I tell you I’ve quarantined, how do I prove that I have? The state chose not to put any penalties in place, and I don’t know how they would do it. … I think it set up an unfortunate us-versus-them thing with Vermonters not wanting to see out-of-state people.”

There were no COVID-19 outbreaks associated with Vermont ski resorts and no resorts closed because of the virus, she said.

Some resorts are hoping to have a strong wedding season to start to make up the gap in revenue, Mahar said. The state is also planning another $50 million in economic recovery grants, said Pelham.

Vermont has opened up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents ages 16 and older.

Registration for this final age segment opened Monday morning. High school students ages 16 to 18 were allowed to make vaccine appointments a few days earlier, on Saturday. Last week, Vermonters aged 30 and older were eligible to make appointments.

“It is remarkable and exciting how far we’ve come,” said Human Services Secretary Mike Smith Friday, during the governor’s twice-weekly virus briefing.

A year ago, the state had limited testing capability and now has one of the most robust in the country, he said. The state had no vaccine a few months ago and since then has vaccinated over half of all Vermonters in a relatively short period of time, he said.

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