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What We Have to Understand about Vail Forecasting Visitor Numbers

In an interview on KPCW with a Park City Planner about approving Vail’s new Canyons/PCMR Gondola, the planner noted that Vail said it would not increase the number of visitors with the Gondola. This apparently was one of the reasons it was approved with no increased need for parking. When we heard that, we couldn’t believe it. However now we know why.

We’ve gone back and listened to a few Vail Resorts Earnings calls. These are where Vail announces their financial results and answer questions from investment banks like Goldman Sachs. So, why don’t they think combining ski resorts, and making the largest ski resort in North America, will increase visitors? It’s because they don’t forecast the number of visitors (at least to outsiders). Not in Park City. Not in Colorado. No where. Their claim is that there is too much variability year to year to do that. Instead they forecast revenue.

Yet, if our leaders ask them questions like “will the gondola increase the number of visitors to Park City area resorts”? Then if Vail replies with something like “we can’t tell you that it will. It’s not something we look at. There could be more or less visitors.” Our leaders shouldn’t say, “Well Vail says there will be no more visitors, so we don’t need more parking.” That shows a complete lack of understanding of how Vail apparently operates.

Instead our leaders should say, “we understand you don’t forecast visitors so you don’t guarantee there will be more by connecting PCMR and Canyons, but we think there is a better than even chance this gondola will lead to more visitors and more homes being built. Because of that, we need additional traffic mitigation and parking.”

To do anything less is a compelte disservice to our community.


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