Strong ski season not shared throughout Canada West

 | June 20, 2016


Sun Peaks had a record year but the success was not shared throughout Canada West. - File Photo
Sun Peaks had a record year but the success was not shared throughout Canada West. – File Photo

Leaders in the ski industry across the western provinces gathered in Whistler from May 3 to 5 at the Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA) Spring Conference to reflect on the season and discuss areas of improvement.

British Columbia saw more than 5 million skier visits, which marks a 13 per cent increase from last year. Alberta also saw increased skier visits and the prairies remained flat. Southwest B.C. had a very strong season, but areas in northern B.C. and the prairies had challenges with snow, according to CWSAA president and CEO Christopher Nicolson.

“The past winter, while at Sun Peaks for example it was a record, it was anything but in other parts of western Canada. The north definitely had some cool temperatures, they didn’t have the precipitation and in other parts of the region it was just an average year,” Nicolson said.

Nationally, skier visits were down this season due to a poor start in Ontario and Quebec. Nicolson said visits were just below 16 million in Canada, which is down about 1 million visits from last year.

The main topics of discussion at the conference surrounded improving the guest experience, engaging and communicating with the millennial market, and risk and safety management.

“Whether you had a good season or a poor season, a lot of the talk at the conference is always around ‘how do we improve ourselves?’ ” Nicolson said.

Nicolson said the ski industry is looking to tap into new labour markets or partner with similar seasonal industries in the summer to attract and maintain workers.

“Tourism operators, whether they be mountain resorts or other operators, generally are always trying to hire Canadians first,” he said. “They’re the closest to home, share a common language, all those kinds of things, but there hasn’t been enough people applying. That’s the bottom line.”