Australia’s ski season is in full swing; however with such a short winter window the industry is facing an uphill struggle.
At one resort in NSW alone an estimated 15,000 people on average hit the slopes every day but in the summer months it’s a different story.
Perisher all but closes down while its competitors adapt.
Activities like mountain biking have helped Thredbo become an all year resort.
“Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia and we’re developing new trails every year to cater for more mountain bikers so it’s huge for us,” saidAngus Thomson from the Thredbo Resort.
“It’s exciting because you know people are coming here in summer and enjoying the mountain all year round is fantastic.”
Transforming its slopes when the snow melts has allowed business in the area to also reap the benefits.
Sam Watling runs a ski shop in the small town of Jindabyne and said the store transitions in October to sell outdoor recreation equipment.
“Jindabyne’s known as being the ghost town in summer, you know nothing happening outside of winter, whereas that’s not really the case anymore,” Mr Watling said.
“Especially during busy times like Christmas and Easter. The town is often full of people wanting to ride their bikes on the road and mountain biking and we have a few events now.”
Over the last few years Mr Watling says business has been strong.
The current exchange rates have made overseas holidays less affordable, and local businesses are now benefitting from that too.
Tony Withers from Travelplan which sells ski holiday packages said it’s bad news for Perisher’s new American owners.
It’s trying to encourage Australian skiers to holiday at its other resorts in the US after purchasing Perisher for $176m.
“It’s just unfortunate timing for them that our dollar has devalued 30% the year that they’ve sort of made this transaction but that probably made the transaction more affordable for them too,” Mr Withers said.
Perisher’s CEO Peter Brulisaue said he hopes Vail Resorts, the new owner, will also look at turning the resort into a year round destination.
“Certainly a very big place in the region over the Christmas, New Year and April periods,” he said.
“We’re eager to look at that opportunity with Vail and figure out whether we can make Perisher have a better year round offering.”