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Economy, Drought Hurting Mountain Towns Except Breckenridge

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Rachel Zerowin (credit: CBS)

Rachel Zerowin (credit: CBS)

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado ski resorts are in desperate need of some snow. A travel industry group says the lack of snow and the economy are hurting not only the ski areas, but ski town communities

One town is bucking the trend.

“In the middle of November as we approach the Thanksgiving season there is a sort of tipping point in the resorts,” mTrip Director Ralf Garrison said. “They can see in to the winter season to determine how the season is coming forward, and at present it looks like the season is down about 4 percent in occupancy based on mTrip’s data.”

Garrison takes occupancy data from more than a dozen western U.S. destinations. He says there are two reasons hotels might be more empty through the end of the year.

“Typically, the two tipping points are based on the wild cards that are out in the economy for one, and weather for the second. Both of those cards have yet to be fully played, so the vote is out for about how the season will transpire,” Garrison said.

Garrison says only half of winter reservations have been made so far with people waiting to see if there will be more snowfall, something that hasn’t happened yet this year. And some are waiting to see what happens with the fiscal cliff. But one Colorado town isn’t seeing the decline.

“Breckenridge is seeing gains in occupancy on the books over last year in all months except for April,” Rachel Zerowin with the Breckenridge Resort Chamber said. “And unlike those other mountain destinations, we do show some gains in December.”

Zerowin says the town offers more than just skiing, and with major events planned before Christmas, occupancy is up.

“We do show a couple of gaps, but as we get closer to Dew Tour, Lighting of Breckenridge, we’re going to see those places fill,” she said.

As for other destinations, Garrison says that may help out the consumer, especially Coloradans, who will be able to take advantage of deals.

“As the season plays itself out, bad news for the resorts means that they’ll get more aggressive, and that could turn into good deals for consumers going into a holiday season that is usually high prices and available for only the pure destination guest,” Garrison said.

Local skiers should stay tuned as the season develops.

If the economy continues to struggle and if the snow is light, analysts say expect to see more deals on lodging.

LINK: mTrip

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