NH tourism officials say both visitors and spending expected to be up 4 percent this winter
By JOHN KOZIOL Union Leader Correspondent
Jessyca Keeler, the executive director of SKI NH, an industry group that represents 34 of the state's alpine and cross-country ski areas joined Victoria Cimino, the director of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism at the Westin Hotel on Thursday. During a media reception at the hotel, Cimino and Keeler spoke about the upcoming winter tourism season and also unveiled some of their joint marketing materials, including this poster of a skier at Cannon Mountain. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)
BOSTON — New Hampshire tourism officials on Thursday announced that the winter of 2017-2018 is expected to bring four percent increases in both the number of visitors and in spending.
Victoria Cimino, director of the NH Division of Travel and Tourism, shared those forecasts at a media reception hosted by SKI NH at the Westin Hotel.
According to Cimino, winter tourism annually generates about a fifth of the Granite State’s $5.5 billion tourism industry, which cumulatively employs some 68,000 people.
She said this winter, 8.5 million people are expected to come to New Hampshire to ski, snowboard or go tubing — spending $1.25 billion.
Cimino said the two-year partnership with SKI NH, which represents 34 of the state’s alpine and cross-country ski areas, is a great example of a public-private endeavor. She said it has proven to be very successful at selling the New Hampshire brand, including at the Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday.
“Massachusetts continues to be our primary-origin market” for most visitors, Cimino said.
The Division of Travel and Tourism and SKI NH are again sharing a booth at the ski expo. This one features an “après ski” theme, with the addition of what Cimino described as a “mobile version of the world’s longest candy counter” at Chutter’s Candy in Littleton.
Located just a few miles west of Cannon Mountain, Littleton is a popular destination for skiers. Olympic medalist Bode Miller, who grew up nearby and honed his skills at Cannon before becoming a world champion skier, is known to enjoy pizza at a Main Street restaurant.
John DeVivo is the manager of Cannon Mountain and of Franconia Notch State Park, in which it is located. He said Cannon, marking its 80th winter of operation, just enjoyed its third-best winter in history.
“Last year was a very good year and we’re still riding high with the Mittersill addition and 600 new ski guns,” DeVivo said.
Over at New Hampshire’s Granite Gorge in Roxbury, Fred Baybutt expects riders to come because the ski area offers great terrain and affordable prices.
“We’ve cut our top ticket price by 33 percent,” said Baybutt, “We wanted to make it affordable.”
Craig Clemmer, marketing director at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, said the SKI NH reception prior to the ski expo is a good opportunity for industry professionals to network.
The resort includes Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s largest ski area.
Even though many of the attendees are competitors, Clemmer said “we’re still neighbors in the end” who all want the same thing — a long, snowy, successful winter.
Lori Rowell of Pat’s Peak in Henniker said the ski expo is a good place to be because many people from New Hampshire and Massachusetts come there to buy equipment and also because the event “helps kick off winter.”
“People from this area definitely ski New Hampshire,” said Rowell.
Whitney Vos, Waterville Valley’s marketing directior, said if you ask “what’s new” at the resort, be prepared for a long answer.
From top to bottom, she said, Waterville Valley is fine-tuning and improving the entire visitor experience.