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Research - 2009 Ski Survey

The Summer Vacation Planning Study of Maine Skiers (2009)

The purpose of this research was to identify visitor response to the current economic downturn, given the challenges in the financial markets and the spillover effects in the country’s mainstream economy, tourist were expected to react to the growing uncertainty about employment and the loss of investments by changing leisure travel behavior.

It also identified the reaction of Maine’s tourists in terms of vacation and leisure travel planning.  The sample of skiers at Sunday River ski resort was exclusively travelers to Maine. The survey was conducted in 2 parts.  Part one was an on-site survey conducted at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine, on 3 weekends in March and April 2009.  Part two was an on-line follow-up questionnaire that sought more in-depth information about summer travel in Maine.

Conclusions drawn from the study:

  • The global economic crisis of the past 8 months appears unlikely to dramatically impact leisure travel to Maine during the upcoming summer vacation season.
    • The skiers at Maine’s Sunday River Ski Resort report unwillingness to compromise by reducing the number or length of leisure trips planned for the summer or by reducing the distance traveled on those trips.
    • Respondents residing in Maine’s drive market who have started to plan their summer vacation and visited Maine in the past 5 years are more likely to return to Maine than are similar visitors to Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Vermont with respect to returning to destinations in those states, considered to be Maine’s major competitors for leisure travelers.
  • The impact of the economic crisis on Maine tourism is likely to be limited to softness in demand for upscale lodging and dining.
    • More than 1 in 5 skiers surveyed at Sunday River ski resort indicated that they definitely would seek less expensive lodging and dining during this summer’s vacation.
    • Nearly a third of respondents indicated a definite intention to reduce the number of restaurant meals while on vacation this summer.

These findings have been replicated in national research conducted by Deloitte’s US Tourism and Hospitality Division.  The decline in gas prices is offered as a reason for the resiliency in tourism and the decline in plans for “staycations” compared to last year. “Overall, the survey found only 42 percent of Americans plan a leisure trip this summer, down from the 49 percent who said they planned to take a summer trip in an AP-Ipsos poll conducted in May 2005.

Petroni, Christina (May 12, 2009), “Americans Warm Up to Summer Travel in 2009”

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