Friday, December 6, 2013

Visitors are wealthy and love it here

Survey queried air passengers on their vacation experience


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

    Visitors to Sun Valley are rich and getting richer.
    That’s one finding of an air passenger survey conducted for Fly Sun Valley Alliance last winter and summer.
    The survey, carried out by Boulder, Colo.,-based RRC Associates, polled 1,177 visitors and part-time homeowners at Friedman Memorial Airport. It posed questions related to demographics and quality of experience in the area, and was a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 2011. Seventy-two percent of those queried were visitors and 28 percent were part-time locals.
    The recent survey showed that 32 percent of the visitors had an annual household income of $250,000 or more, and only 27 percent earned less than $100,000. Of the part-time residents, 70 percent had an income of at least $250,000, and only 9 percent earned less than $100,000. The number of visitors in the $250,000-and-over category was 10 percentage points higher than it had been in 2011.
    Despite those numbers, the poll found one complaint of visitors to the area was “older/richer demographics.” Others were “lack of restaurant/shopping options” and “limited night life.”
    Most respondents, however, loved their trip. The survey showed ratings of at least 8 on a scale of 1-10 in every one of 12 categories of trip experience. Especially high among visitors were overall enjoyment and recreation experience, scenery and atmosphere. Fifty-eight percent of visitors said they would probably or definitely return within three years, and 66 percent said they would recommend the area to others. Only 9 percent said they would not.
    The survey showed an increase of 7 percent in repeat summer visitors and 2 percent in repeat winter visitors.
    Other mountain resorts most visited by those flying to Sun Valley were Vail, Mammoth, Aspen, Whistler, Jackson Hole and Park City, in that order.
    The average length of stay for visitors was 4.7 nights, and 44 percent stayed with friends or in friends’ condos or houses. Average per-capita daily expenditure for visitors was $328, resulting in an average of $1,542 per visit. Part-time residents spent an average of $267 per day, or $2,120 for an average-length stay of 7.9 nights. Among both groups, there was an 18 percent increase in spending compared to 2011.
    Total annual estimated spending by both groups was $61 million.
    The recent survey showed 4 percent more people coming from New York City and 4 percent fewer coming from Portland, Ore. (which unlike Seattle and Los Angeles does not have a direct flight to Sun Valley).
Greg Moore: gmoore@mtexpress.com




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