- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico saw an increase in the number of skiers who hit the slopes this past winter, with more than 938,000 people visiting the state’s ski areas in the 2015-16 season.

This season’s totals marked a 20 percent increase from the previous five-year average of 783,000 visits and a 3 percent increase from the 2014-15 season.

Ski industry figures show that this past winter’s visits to the state’s nine alpine and four nordic ski areas contributed $524 million to the local economy, nearly $17 million more than the previous season.

Although the economic impact was above average, Ski New Mexico Executive Director George Brooks said the 2015-16 season could have reached the 1 million-visitor mark if snow levels seen in the early winter months would have lasted throughout the season.

“We started off November, December, January with great big numbers and lots of snow and then it quit snowing and people quit skiing as much.” Brooks told The Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/1TcktNb). Skiing was good all season, Brooks said, but after regular snowfalls stopped, many people living in New Mexico’s warmer and drier spots didn’t think about skiing.

Brooks attributed the growth to efforts from the New Mexico Tourism Department, which has increased its marketing of the state’s winter recreation opportunities in recent years.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com

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