Tourism numbers continue to shine


Mammoth beats national trends

Mammoth’s economic rebound from last season is running well ahead of other comparable mountain resorts, new tourism figures show.

According to the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP), of which Mammoth is a member, the industry as a whole was up 14.2 percent in actual bookings in February.

The booking “pace” for reservations taken in February for the next six months is up by 20.4 percent overall, the Denver-based MTRiP statistics showed, but in Mammoth, the rebound has been much more dramatic.

Lodging figures showed a 27.3 percent increase from last year’s dismal showing, while reservations for the next six months show a 30.5 percent increase, according to figures released by Mammoth Lakes Tourism on Monday, March 18.

Two factors combined for the surge, said officials from MTRiP, the most obvious being consistent snowfall through the holiday season between Thanksgiving and the Presidents Day Weekend.

Flight enplanements to Mammoth also took a sharp leap higher, with February figures showing a 19.8 percent jump from LAX from February 2012, and a 22.6 percent leap on flights from San Francisco.

Aside from snowfall, the other factor for the rebound is a strong economic optimism overall, he said.

“The destination winter season is pretty much ‘in the bag’ and for the first time in several years, both the broader markets and the winter weather patterns are showing sustained momentum that have boosted the ski season lodging totals,” said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP.  

“With almost 94 percent of total reservations that will be taken for the season now on the books, the season is currently up nine percent in revenues although that is expected to drop slightly in the remaining weeks of the season.”

As of Feb. 28, the aggregated occupancy among participating lodging properties in 16 western destinations was up six percent for the past six months (September through February) compared to 2011-12 and the ADR (Average Daily Rate) was up 2.6 percent.

The positive increase over last year is continuing in March, Garrison said, with on-the-books occupancy for March up 9.9 percent as of Feb. 28 compared to last year.

 “Many of the destinations experienced a decrease in December bookings due to the season’s slow start,” he said. “An earlier Easter holiday will benefit March but at the expense of April’s destination business, which is off significantly as a result.”

Looking forward to summer, Garrison said that for the coming six months, March through July, reservations are up every month except April for an aggregated increase of 8.5 percent compared to the same time last year.

“The ongoing strength in mountain summer reservations is further evidence that summer mountain vacations are finally coming into their own,” Garrison said in a news release distributed to mountain resort area media outlets.

“Seeing the emergence of mountain resorts as a top summer vacation choice is exciting … and long overdue,” he said.

The monthly MTRiP briefing also identified significant economic trends that, in addition to consistent snowfall in most locations, may be fueling the reservation activity.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.4 percent and reached its highest level in five years. In March, the stock index topped records set in 2007.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Confidence Index rose 19.2 percent after a sharp decline in January, and the Unemployment Rate dipped two basis points to 7.7 percent, bringing the rate to its lowest level since January 2009—boosted by the 239,000 new jobs added during the month.

“We should all cheer about the recent gains in the stock market led by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which picked up momentum in January, continued through February and set new records in March,” said Tom Foley, director of operations for MTRiP.

“However, records set by the Dow mean essentially little to the average consumer except the psychological benefits of increasing consumer confidence in market growth and its signal of a more robust economic recovery.”

Foley’s cautionary words in the midst of the positive Wall Street news is partially due to concerns about another modest increase in crude oil prices—the fourth consecutive month of increases that is adding to pain at the pump and increasing transportation cost of many consumer goods.

He also noted that the Consumer Price Index edged up slightly—driven mostly by fuel prices.

“Overall, the economic news and reservation pacing bodes well going into the summer booking season which is looking very good at this early stage,” Garrison said.

“Still, hurdles remain and the resiliency of the greater marketplace may be tested in the upcoming months.”