Ski towns see a return of holiday visitors
LUDLOW, Vt. (WCAX) - Christmas week is a big one for Vermont ski towns, and state tax data shows tourists are back in big numbers as 2021 comes to a close. And it’s not just holiday vacationers providing the economic boost.
“Things have definitely been on an uptick,” said Steven Manning, the owner of Depot Street Gallery in Ludlow.
He says they are usually busy year-round but winter is the busiest, aided by visitors coming to the Okemo ski resort. And with an increase of year-round residents in the area, his shop has even more support. “There’s a lot of people who have moved here that used to be just their second home, but now they’re here full-time,” Manning said.
But it’s the visitors who still drive the economy in tourist towns like Ludlow. People like Karen Haley-Lunde, who is vacationing with her family, skiing during the morning and shopping in the afternoon. “We could tell, coming through town today, traffic was so backed up. And you know what, it’s okay. Everybody is back out again,” Haley-Lunde said.
The increase in traffic around 2 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon is one indicator that business has returned.
“We always sort of gird our loins for the holiday week. It’s one of the busiest times of the whole season,” said Bonnie MacPherson with Okemo Mountain Resort. She says business is back close to pre-pandemic levels.
Genine Pulido’s family is escaping the city staying at their cabin through New Year’s. “Things got a little crazy with COVID and everything, so it was nice to finish up school with the kids and they have a two-week break. So, it was nice to just get out of there and be in our space and feel safe and happy again,” Pulido said.
Connecticut resident Karalyn Scheppe made it to the mountain last year when travel and capacity restrictions were still in place. “Everyone was covered up and all that. It is very different this year with having the boosters and all of our shots and whatnot. It definitely makes it feel more comfortable,” she said.
State officials say Vermont is seeing a nice rebound to the tourism and hospitality industries because the state continues to be perceived as a safe place.
“Yes, there are a lot of people. It’s very crowded here on holiday weeks even during the week. I’m a midweek skier and there are lines where there used to not be,” Manning said.
The traffic may not be “fun” but all business owners say they will continue to welcome it.
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