Year-over-year occupancy was up 1.4% and the average nightly rate down 5.8% for the 2009-10 snowsports season at 15 western mountain resort destinations, according to the the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP)*.

MTRiP's final winter season Mountain Market Briefing released this week  revealed that January occupancy was up 1%, February was up 3%, and March was up 8%. April was flat compared to last year’s business.  

MTRiP’s data also measures transactions on the books for the upcoming six months and reported that advance bookings have improved considerably in the past 30 days, with year-over-year occupancy up nearly 1% and rate up 3.4%. The booking pace in April for arrivals in April through September is up 32.2% compared to last year.

“Although the occupancy increase remains quite small, it still represents a statistical stepping stone in advance booking data and along with the ongoing strength in the pace of advanced reservations, we’re seeing the first rate increases in some time,” noted MTRiP's Ralph Garrison. “However, we saw a few hiccups in the upward climb to recovery due to low season ‘softness’ in both April and May and that serves as a reminder that recovery from the recession is weaker and more hesitant than hoped,” he explained.

A 1.9% increase in the Travel Price Index (TPI) during March, the fourth consecutive monthly increase, coupled with a March TPI that is 5.5% higher than March 2009 is indicative that travel providers are edging prices higher for travel products but the uptick also covers increases in fuel, airline fees, and other travel related costs.  Currently, “travel inflation” is outpacing the national inflation rate of 2.3%.

“Looking back at last season and forward to this summer, the song is familiar and sounds about the same,” mused Garrison.  “It’s easier listening than last year but still not exactly a cause for dancing.  Hopefully the steady beat will continue and the tempo will pick up over the summer and onto next season,” he added.


*Data is derived from a sample of 265 property management companies in 15 mountain destination communities, representing 24,000 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, and Oregon and may not reflect the entire mountain destination travel industry.