Nearly 500 visitors to fly into Steamboat on Saturday as winter air program takes off
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat’s winter air program takes flight on Saturday, meaning an influx of visitors and a welcome increase in clientele for local businesses.
Nearly 500 people are expected to fly into the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden on Saturday, according to Maren Franciosi, digital communications manager with Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. The air program works in partnership with Ski Corp. and the city’s local marketing district.
Jet Blue Airways and Alaska Airlines will launch their inaugural winter flights to the airport on Saturday, joining the year-round service from Denver.
Winter flights go into full swing next Saturday, Dec. 21, with nonstop flights between 14 cities through the airport’s five airlines. This marks a slight decrease from the 15 locations offered last winter, following the elimination of service to Long Beach. This comes as the local marketing district has struggled to find ways to subsidize flights after Steamboat voters struck down the 2A sales tax in 2018. The tax would have generated an estimated $1.3 million annually for the program.
Additional changes to the flight schedule include twice the number of flights to Fort Lauderdale this winter and increased capacity on flights to Chicago and Dallas, according to Tinneal Gerber, the airport’s assistant director.
“Overall it is a pretty stable, consistent flight schedule to what we saw last season,” Gerber said.
Laura Soard, marketing director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber, said the city’s lodging reports reflect the influx of visitors. This weekend, the hotels, motels and condos that share their lodging data project about half of their rooms will be filled. By next weekend, when Soard said locals will really notice an uptick in tourism, lodging should be about 60% full.
“Local businesses and restaurants will definitely start to feel that,” Soard said.
Visitation again ramps up around Christmas and New Years, she said, when lodging companies project about 90% of rooms to be full.
Foster Martin, general manager at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, has spent the last few months preparing for this winter spike in tourism. For ski shops, he said all the visitors bring much-welcome business.
“As a ski shop especially, it’s nice to see so many people come to town,” Martin said.
The shop offers rentals for skiing and snowboarding, as well as backcountry ski setups. Martin encourages people to book reservations ahead of time and as soon as possible to guarantee customers get the gear they want. Reservations for demo packages are filling up fast, Martin said, and premium boot rentals are almost out of stock.
For those wanting to fly out of the airport, its website advises people that airlines stop accepting passengers 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. Airport officials advise passengers to arrive 90 minutes prior to their scheduled boarding time, allowing more time during peak travel periods. The airport’s flight schedule is updated periodically. For the most recent information, visit flysteamboat.com.
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