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Destination guests to Whistler Blackcomb made up 15% of total visits for quarter

Across Vail Resorts, season-to-date skier visits down 8%, while lift revenue fell 9%
N-Vail Quarterly WB GETTY IMAGES 28.10
With COVID-19 travel restrictions still in place, destination visitors made up just 15 per cent of skier visits to Whistler Blackcomb in the second fiscal quarter.

Destination guests to Whistler Blackcomb (WB) dropped to 15 per cent of its total skier visits for the second fiscal quarter of 2021, a result of continued COVID-19-related travel restrictions.

In its quarterly financial update Thursday, March 11, Rob Katz, CEO of WB’s parent company, Vail Resorts, said, “Results at Whistler Blackcomb were disproportionately impacted throughout the second fiscal quarter due to the Canadian border remaining closed to international guests (including guests from the U.S.), with destination guests, including international visitors, declining to 15% of Whistler Blackcomb visits (excluding complimentary access).”

Destination guests made up 48 per cent of WB’s skier visits during the same fiscal period, ending Jan. 31, last year. It’s unclear if that ratio of destination guests includes any international visitors, given Canada’s continued border closure and COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Pique has requested further clarification on that point and will update the story once we hear back.

Katz added that, while the company’s U.S. resorts saw “material improvements" in financial performance since the holidays, “Whistler Blackcomb’s financial performance continues to be severely impacted by the continued closure of Canadian borders to international travel, a trend that will likely continue through the rest of the season.”

Company-wide, Vail Resorts’ season-to-date skier visits have dropped 8.2 per cent from last season, while lift revenue fell 8.9 per cent.

Season pass unit sales have grown 20 per cent so far this fiscal year, creating “a strong baseline of demand heading into the season across our local and destination audience and will be one of the most important drivers of our performance and relative stability for this season,” Katz said. 

For fiscal 2021, the company said 71 per cent of its visitation came from pass holders, compared to 59 per cent over the same period last year. Katz added that Vail Resorts remains “even more committed to the benefits advanced commitment offers our company.”

The company’s 2021-2022 lineup of pass products will be launched on March 23.

Meanwhile, season-to-date ski school revenue has fallen 43.2 per cent, while dining revenue has plunged 56.9 per cent, and retail and rental revenue went down 31.6 per cent.

In other quarterly results, net income was down US$147.8 million, or 28.4 per cent, while net revenue decreased $240.1 million over the same period. Resort reported Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) fell 27 per cent, from $378.3 million from the same quarter last year, to $276.1 million.

The company said it expects its resort reported EBITDA for the nine months ending April 30, 2021 to fall somewhere between $560 million and $600 million. Vail Resorts noted that it has “significant liquidity” with $1.4 billion of cash on hand as of Feb. 28, and $597 million of availability under its U.S. and WB revolving credit facilities. 

Katz went on to say the company would not be providing full-year financial guidance for fiscal 2021 as it continues to examine “the potential economic and operational impacts of COVID-19 on our fiscal 2021 fourth quarter results.”

For the full quarterly report, visit investors.vailresorts.com.