Friday, August 3, 2012

Mountain Town News


Group business surges at resorts

PARK CITY, Utah—Group business is returning. Tourism officials in Park City report that from 2010 to 2011, the number of visitors attached with groups at the resort grew from 36,000 to 61,000. This year, an even greater surge is under way. Inquiries in the first half of the year were double those of the same period last year, the Park City Chamber-Bureau reports.

Sales agents for hotels tell The Park Record that the market has swiveled. Before, planners would commit as little as two months before an event. Now, in that constant teeter-totter between supply and demand, it's becoming a seller's market.

Debbie Batt, from the Park City Marriott, tells the newspaper that her hotel likes to balance group business with leisure travelers, each getting 50 percent of their books. Without group business, it's virtually impossible to hit 100 percent occupancy, she says.

Tourism plants seeds for higher-pay jobs

VAIL, Colo.—Tourism doesn't deliver many well-paying jobs. But tourism can provide the seed that does deliver a pot of money.

That was among the points made by Richard Wobbekind, executive director of a program within the business school at the University of Colorado. Wobbekind was on a panel held in Vail convened to talk about international business.

Wobbekind say higher-paying jobs are essential to building the economies in relatively expensive places such as Vail. Health and wellness do create those jobs, and those higher-paying jobs often start with a tourist's visit, he said.

Another speaker at the forum covered by the Vail Daily said that 80 percent of all businesses that relocate to Colorado come because someone associated with those companies came here on vacation. That's why the state needs to continue its tourism marketing efforts, said Richard Scharf, chief executive of Visit Denver.

Colorado is pinning some hopes on new direct flights from Tokyo and Reykjavik, Iceland. While the population of Iceland itself is small, it provides a more direct link to cities of Europe.

Wildfire threat ebbs, but rivers still shallow

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—Wildfires in Colorado, so much in the news during a searing hot and bone-dry June, have receded as a threat. At the center of the drought, Steamboat Springs received almost double its average rainfall for July, reports Steamboat Today.

Despite the rains, river flows remain modest. To help boost supplies, city officials in Steamboat instituted mandatory conservation measures. Outdoor lawn watering was banned during mid-day and altogether on Wednesdays, and remaining watering is allowed only every other day.

Crested Butte is bigger and better

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—All ski resorts like to brag about being bigger and better. Crested Butte has figured out a way to puff up its size by nearly 25 percent without even moving a boundary rope.

The Crested Butte News reports that personnel at the ski area "found" another 380 acres of terrain within the gladed areas of the ski boundary.

"We realized we weren't counting some of our skiable terrain," explained John Sale, director of planning. "It is terrain all of us have skied for years ... but was never included in our acreage."

The resort will now report it has 1,547 acres of skiable terrain, which the resort believes might entice some visitors who shop for skiing vacations based purely on size.

Stumble from mountain top results in fatality

JACKSON, Wyo.—Authorities in Grand Teton National Park guess that Justin Beldin, 27, stumbled shortly after leaving the summit of Middle Teton, resulting in a fatal fall.

"My best guess is that this was a relatively innocent moment of inattention," said Scott Guenther, the co-incident commander.

The victim tried to stop himself on steep rock for 5 to 20 feet before free-falling for "quite a ways," Guenther told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

It was the fourth fatality in the Teton Range this year. Two backcountry skiers were killed in an avalanche on March 7 and a climber fell to his death earlier this month.

Meanwhile, a 6-year-old among a family of climbers who summited Grand Teton became the youngest ever to stand atop the 13,776-foot peak. He is one of three pre-adolescent children in the family to summit.

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