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NC Ski Slopes Impact State's Economy

The North Carolina ski industry contributed approximately $197 million last year to the state's economy through recreational skiing, and races like the High Country Race Series, pictured here. Courtesy: High Country Race Series
The North Carolina ski industry contributed approximately $197 million last year to the state's economy through recreational skiing, and races like the High Country Race Series, pictured here. Courtesy: High Country Race Series
December 3, 2015

BANNER ELK, N.C. – Across North Carolina, skiers and snowboarders are dusting off their gear for another season on the state's slopes.

While skiers hope for a big dump of snow in the coming weeks, the money they spend is providing a dump of cash into the economy.

Last year the total economic impact of the state's ski industry was more than $197 million with 650,000 skier visits during the season, according to a survey conducted by the North Carolina Ski Areas Association.

"We find people who have come here in the 70s and now they're in their 70s and they've had kids and then those kids have had grandkids and their vacations are planned around Sugar Mountain or around skiing Cataloochee or Beech Mountain or Appalachian Ski Mountain," says Kim Jochl, president of the North Carolina Ski Areas Association.

More than half of those visiting are from outside of the state. The ski area industry provides 87 year-round jobs and almost 1,800 seasonal positions.

Counties specifically impacted are Haywood, Madison and Watauga, though there are ski shops and related businesses located in areas across the state.

Jochl says the ski industry provides for economic growth during a time of year and in a region that might otherwise lack sources of economic sustainability.

"It gives people the opportunity to live here, live here comfortably, make a living and it stabilizes the economy and the ski areas specifically are really the nucleus to creating a really solid and strong tax base," she states.

While 27 percent of the total spending was on lift, tubing and ice skating tickets, hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and stores benefited from the rest of the spending per person, which the survey estimates to be $182.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC