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Aspen seeks foreign visitors



ASPEN, Colo. – The Aspen Skiing Co. is looking to gains this year in its all-important business among international visitors.

Two years ago 15 per cent of Aspen’s skier days came from international visitors, and last year it was 18 per cent. But this year it may become larger yet, says David Perry, the No. 2 executive in the company. Aspen has four ski areas. Snowmass being the largest.

Aspen is becoming less expensive to foreign visitors because of the flagging strength of the U.S. dollar. For example, when Perry arrived in Colorado from Whistler five years ago, the Canadian dollar was worth $0.62 compared to the U.S. dollar. Now, it trades at $1.08.

Top markets for Aspen are Australia/New Zealand, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Canada.

But Aspen’s skier days have actually declined in the last decade, even as other ski areas in Colorado have grown. Perry discounts the comparison to the growing resorts along the I-70 corridor. “We have a pure long-haul destination resort and have achieved our results without the frustration of weekend crowds,” he said.

About 39 per cent of skiers at Aspen-Snowmass fly into Aspen. Another 36 per cent fly into the Denver airport and take ground transportation to Aspen, and 11 per cent use the Eagle County Regional Airport near Vail.

Aspen, more than many other resorts, suffered last year as a result of disruptions in airline service. However, offered airline seats are up 12 per cent for this winter.


Banff calls for car-free zone

BANFF, Alberta – A trade group called Banff Lake Louise Tourism is calling for a car-free pedestrian zone on the main drag in Banff similar to what is found in Whistler and Boulder, Colo., or for that matter, Aspen and Vail.

Council members don’t necessarily disagree, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, but first want to see the results of the $22 million that was spent this year to gussy-up the strip.


Fast food town?

KETCHUM, Idaho – Everybody’s complaining about high prices in the Wood River Valley.

The town manager in Ketchum, located at the foot of the Sun Valley ski area, is decamping for a similar job in Durango, Colo. He’s getting $153,000 a year, plus a generous retirement package and other benefits. He says it’s because he doesn’t think he can afford to retire in the Ketchum area, because of the cost of living.

In a letter published in the Idaho Mountain Express, Cindy Williams looks at things from the other end of the income spectrum. What the valley needs, she says, are more fast-food restaurants. It just has McDonald’s and Subway, but it could use Taco Bell, KFC and a few others, she believes.

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