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Revenue, visitation, pass sales up for Vail Resorts in fiscal 2019

Company experienced ‘relative weakness’ in international visitation, however—particularly at WB



Vail Resorts, parent company of Whistler Blackcomb (WB), reported a strong fiscal 2019, with revenue, visitation and pass sales up across the board, according to a Sept. 26 earnings report.

For the fiscal year ending July 31, 2019, total net revenue for the Colorado-based company increased by 12.9 per cent, or US$260 million, to $2.27 billion.

Net income attributable to Vail Resorts was $301.2 million for the year, a decrease of 20.7 per cent compared to fiscal 2018, when the company said it was “positively impacted by U.S. tax reform.”

Total lift revenue climbed 17.4 per cent, to $1.03 billion, due primarily, the report stated, to strong North American pass sales growth for the 2018/19 ski season, increased non-pass skier visitation at its Western U.S. resorts and incremental revenue from its newly acquired properties: Triple Peaks, Stevens Pass, Falls Creek and Hotham.

"We are pleased with our overall results for the year, with strong growth in visitation and spending compared to the prior year, including a strong finish to the season with good conditions across our U.S. resorts throughout the year,” said Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz in the report. “After the challenging early season period for destination visitation, our results for the remainder of the year were largely in line with our original expectations. Our results throughout fiscal 2019 highlight the growth and stability resulting from our season pass, the benefit of our geographic diversification, the investments we make in our resorts and the success of our sophisticated, data-driven marketing efforts.”

International visitation, meanwhile, was relatively weak across the company—“particularly at Whistler Blackcomb,” the report stated.

Through Sept. 22, season pass sales for the upcoming ski season increased roughly 14 per cent in units and 15 per cent in sales dollars compared to the same period last year, the company reported.

Total effective ticket price (ETP) decreased 3.4 per cent, “primarily due to higher skier visitation by season pass sales, lower ETP from the Acquired Resorts and the new Military Epic Pass, partially offset by price increases in both our lift ticket and season pass products.”

Ski school revenue also went up, by $25.2 million, or 13.2 per cent, while dining revenue rose $20.4 million, or 12.7 per cent. Retail and rental revenue went up $23.8 million, or eight per cent, which the company attributed to strong sales at its Western U.S. resorts.

Operating expenses increased 13 per cent for the year, by $146.7 million, which the company pegged primarily to its incremental operating costs at its newly acquired resorts.

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