The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) announced that US ski areas hosted around 51 million skier and snowboarder visits during the 2011/12 season. This number marks a 15% decrease from visits recorded last season. As stated by the preliminary 2011/12 Kottke End of Season Survey, the ski industry was hit with its most challenging season since the 1991/92 season, which tallied only 50.8 million visits.

More details on the state of the season, below:

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – May 7, 2012 –

In the 1980/81 season the industry experienced a 17.6 percent drop in visits, the biggest year-over-year decline in 32 years. Notably, visits fully recovered the following season with a 22 percent increase in 1981/82, a reminder that the industry has demonstrated considerable resilience in the past, and that severely difficult seasons have been relatively rare. Other positive indicators show that the mild weather patterns experienced this season actually fostered an excellent ski and snowboard learning environment, as evidenced by increases in lesson participation rates. The survey also shows that guest service satisfaction levels are at an all time high, and early assessments of season pass renewals for the 2012/13 season are encouraging.

The 2011/12 season was also marked by the lowest national average resort snowfall since 1991/92, the second-lowest snowfall in 21 years of available data. According to the survey, 50 percent of responding ski areas opened late this season, and 48 percent closed early. Every region experienced a decrease in overall days of operation, with particularly significant declines in the Southeast, down 13.9 percent, the Northeast was down 13 percent, the Pacific Southwest was down 11.7 percent, and the Midwest was down 10.6 percent. More modest declines in total days of operation were experienced in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest regions, with each showing a 0.8 percent decrease. A final Kottke End of Season Survey will be issued in July. For more information visit NSAA online at nsaa.org.