Snow news is good news when it comes to winter travel in Michigan. Each year, Michigan welcomes between 2 million and 2.4 million skiers and snowboarders to slopes and trails across the state. Activity on the slopes contributes to the state’s $4.9 billion winter leisure and recreation travel industry and that accounts for nearly one third of the state’s leisure travel.
Below, Mickey MacWilliams, executive director, Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, talks about how the skiing industry impacts Michigan’s economy.
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association was formed over 24 years ago to speak with one voice for the state ski industry, increase awareness of snow sports and introduce new individuals to skiing and snowboarding in Michigan. Our pilot program – Discover Michigan Skiing – has introduced over 170,000 people to skiing and snowboarding over those years. Each January, ski areas across Michigan offer this special learn-to-ski program which includes a lesson, rental equipment and a lift ticket or trail pass – all for as little as $20. I’m proud to say that Governor Snyder has proclaimed January as Discover Michigan Snow Sport Month.
Once you see some of our world-class resorts, great ski slopes and wonderful snowmobile trails, it’s easy to see why our state is a great destination for skiers. No matter where you live in Michigan, you are no farther than a two-hour drive to a ski area. Colorado and Utah can’t say that! Of the four states that border us – Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin–when it comes to winter recreation, we’re the best game in town. Plus, Michigan is tied with New York for the most ski areas of any state.
The jobs that the ski industry creates can’t be outsourced. It would be pretty hard to move one of our ski hills to another state or outsource the ski lift attendants that go with them. Those jobs will always stay right here. The ripple effect of our industry is felt throughout our state. Gas stations, convenience stores, ski and snowmobile outfitters, restaurants, linen services, beverage distributors, lodging facilities and a host of other businesses rely on travelers who head for Michigan’s downhill slopes and cross country trails each year.
Over the past 50 years, the ski industry has created year-round tourism in towns that used to shut down for the winter. Back in the ‘50s, folks traveled to Michigan’s beaches during the summer, but cottages and lakeside cabins typically closed up during the snowy months and there was very little recreational travel – until the onset of our ski areas. Now, our world-class ski resorts also provide travelers with additional recreational opportunities. There are indoor water parks, spas, sleigh and dogsled rides, zips lines and more.
We live in a state that turns cold for three months each year. Michigan is truly a winter wonderland. We have the natural resources, the ski resorts, slopes and trails that provide an excellent recreational experience for travelers and an important source of revenue for many businesses. Humans were never meant to hibernate…and that’s good news for Michigan’s economy!
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