‘I think it’s a much more positive situation this year’: Ski resorts grateful for the business

The ski industry has been hit hard by the pandemic

While Mother Nature wasn’t the most cooperative during the winter break, Kevin Nichol, President of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association, says most resorts were able to get up and running during the holidays and had a fairly decent Christmas break, considering it wasn’t a white Christmas.

He says resorts were able to make snow, and the recent cold snap has made up for what was lost weather-wise.

The new COVID restrictions were not in place over the holidays, so resorts could offer their indoor facilities.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be operating and being able to provide such a great opportunity for Ontarians to get outside and get some exercise and fresh air,” said Nichol.

‘You don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder, you can go tubing or skating, there are all kinds of outdoor activities that our resorts offer.”

Nichol says the current restrictions in Ontario mean there will be an impact on the food and beverage operations at the resorts, but he notes even with reduced capacities and limited indoor offerings, people can still come in and get their food, they just can’t sit down inside.

The pandemic has been punishing to the ski industry in Ontario, with two lost March breaks, the loss of most of the lucrative Christmas season in 2020, and other pandemic-related lockdowns.

In a November 2021 interview, Nichol estimated the pandemic had cost the ski industry and supporting businesses about 9,500 jobs and upwards of $140 million in revenue.

“I know there are several (resorts) that just barely made it through,” Nichol said at the time. “Without the assistance from the federal and provincial governments, I think the story would have been much different.”

He predicted the ski industry would need three to five years to return to what was normal pre-COVID in terms of revenue, infrastructure, and being able to facilitate planning.

But rolling into a new year, Nichol says prior to the pandemic, the most challenging piece to the ski business was the weather.

“Being open is great, and being able to satisfy the need of season pass holders, and to get out and snowboard and ski with resorts doing a lot of online ticketing.”

Nichol advises people to check ahead, so they are aware of any restrictions or capacity limits.

“But resorts are feeling quite positive, right now.”