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Huge snow falls drive rise in skier numbers

September 7, 2006

Huge snow falls drive rise in skier and boarder numbers

Snow is the new black. And Kiwis are adopting the fashion in droves.

Thanks to a winter that has brought cold temperatures and acres of snow, visitor numbers to the country’s ski areas are on track to reach a record-breaking 1.4 million by the end of the season.

“The incredible snowfall the ski areas have experienced so far has contributed to a 30 per cent growth in visitor numbers for some compared to this time last year,” says New Zealand Snowsports Council (NZSC) spokesperson Miles Davidson.

Mr Davidson says the figures are impressive particularly since the ski and snowboard season is just over the half way mark. He says the industry is confident the snow will last and he expects big visitor numbers will continue through into the end of October.

“If this proves to be the case, we will exceed the all time high of 1,333,000 in 2004. I expect we’ll reach the 1.4 million mark for the first time since records have been kept.

“The season got off to one of its best ever starts and the southerly storms have just kept on charging through one after the other. And that means we’ve had some pretty cold temperatures which are ideal for snow making. And that in turn has enabled our ski areas to build excellent snow bases early on with natural and machine made snow.”

Mr Davidson says more than 40,000 season passes have been sold throughout the country.

“With such good conditions, season pass holders have had a great year and should get maximum use right up until the season winds down. And that could be sometime in late October.”

With more people hitting the slopes, Mr Davidson says the winter retail industry is reaping the flow-on benefits. In some hardware categories skis and snowboards have sold out, he says.

“You could say we’ve been making snow while the storms rage. In 2005, 15,454 pairs of skis and 7,120 snowboards were imported. Industry sources say most of this stock is now sold including some popular brands imported for the 2006 season.

“Good snow conditions are a catalyst to skiers and snowboarders buying new equipment. I expect we can see even greater numbers of skis and snowboards imported for next season.”

ENDS

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