ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - It's long been considered one of the biggest boosts to New Mexico's economy in the winter, the sport of skiing. For whatever majestic mountains the state has to offer, it was enough for innovators to carve out trails for skiing and in turn, pump hundreds of millions of dollars back into the state.
"Skiing is a big part of bringing tourists to our state when we normally wouldn't have tourists in our state," says George Brooks, Executive Director of Ski New Mexico. "If we didn't have the skiing, people probably wouldn't come here in the winter time."
It's not only money introduced into our economy by local skiers getting away for the day, but outsiders looking to get on New Mexico's slopes.
"For every skier visit we have from out of state that comes in, they spend about $179 a day," added Brooks. "So it's important for us and the state of New Mexico and our tourism department to bring more out of state skiers here as well because the spend is a little bit higher there and we see a bigger return on the investment of getting someone here and skiing. About a $500-million business when all is said on an average year for us."
That includes providing employment for New Mexicans in ski-related jobs like lift operators or instructors. Even if the weather isn't fully cooperating by providing the snow that resorts crave, that's not stopping snow from being made or discouraging skiers from taking advantage of the New Mexico sun.
"Mother Nature hasn't given us a lot of snow this year," said Brooks. "But the surfaces that we have, the skiing that we have, which is where about 80 percent of our guests from north to south of the state ski, have snow on those trails and the skiing on those trails is excellent and the snow surface is probably better than natural snow."
Due to the usually favorable winter weather conditions in New Mexico, in a good year, the ski season can start as early as late November and go all the way until mid-April.
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