Mountain News: Baggage, kids may fly free 

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Deep in the heat of summer, the marketing team for the Intrawest ski resorts is at work in Steamboat Springs, plotting out how to confront a weak economy and rising oil prices that have made flying more expensive.

One plan being rolled out to flights to and from Steamboat is a promotion in which kids fly free, and so do bags.

“Our mechanism is basically to be giving people a card pre-charged with that amount of money to take care of their bags at check-in,” Andy Wirth, Intrawest’s vice president for marketing, told The Steamboat Pilot & Today. “American Express has given us a very smooth mechanism for this.”

If the deal works well during the first 45 to 60 days of operation, the baggage promotion could expand to other Intrawest resorts, Wirth said.

“The game’s won or lost in spring or summer,” Wirth told the newspaper. “Even though it’s 85 degrees outside, we’ve very much in the heat of battle for the dead of winter.”

 

Ski areas decry visa cap

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Ski area operators are describing labor issues with the sort of language usually described for drought.

The specific source of anxiety, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal , is the cap on H-2B visas, which was reached last October. Ski resorts recently learned that the U.S. government will reject all additional applications unless Congress removes the quota.

“It’s kind of a nightmare for us,” Ed Youmans, general manager of Diamond Peak, a ski resort at Incline Village.

Bob Roberts, executive director of the California Ski Industry Association, said the cap could bar 200 of the 1,500 to 2,000 foreign workers at California resorts. As well, the cap affects snowmaking experts, ski patrollers, and food-and- beverage workers.

 

A reason for surge in tourism

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Gas prices reached record highs in June. Yet at Yellowstone, the quintessential drive-by national park, visitation also reached a record high. What’s going on?

Jonathan Schechter, an economics columnist in the Jackson Hole News & Guide , said there may be an easy explanation for this seeming anomaly: international visitors. Because park officials don’t track the nationalities of visitors, there’s no way to know for sure, he says, but anecdotal evidence points firmly toward that as an explanation.

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