ore than one in five active adult leisure travelers are interested in taking ski or snowboard vacations, according to Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of Yesawich Pepperdine Brown & Russell, a Maitland, Fla.-based marketing research company.

Of those 22% interested in skiing or snowboarding, 36% are so-called Gen-Xers, age 25 to 35, and 32% are baby boomers age 36 to 54.

Even more promising is the news that 43% of those who plan to take ski or snowboarding vacations will bring their children along, Yesawich said. That percentage is significantly higher than among the general or nonskiing population (which measures about 35% to 36% who will bring kids along on vacations).

"What this means is that there is a concentration of interest in the next generation of skiers and snowboarders," Yesawich said.

The inference is that young winter sports enthusiasts will become the ski resort patrons of tomorrow, bolstering the industry into the future.

These statistics come from the 2003 National Leisure Travel Monitor, a survey of 1,350 leisure travelers by YPBR/Yankelovich Partners.

Noting the boost in family travel since 9/11, Yesawich pointed out that family travel doesn't just occur during school vacation weeks.

According to the survey, 64% of respondents traveling with children said they would be willing to take their kids out of school for vacation.

"There has been a myth in the industry for years that the family travel faucet is turned off after Labor Day," Yesawich said. "The insight here is that [parents] are equally likely to take their three- or four-day vacations in January or February as in June or July," he said.

The news isn't all good for travel agents, however. Yesawich said that skiers and snowboarders tend to be an affluent and technologically savvy group that is quick to turn to the Internet for information.

When responding to the question: "I get the best prices on travel services from ...," 20% of respondents answered "suppliers" [the hotel or airline directly], 63% answered "the Internet" and 17% responded "travel agents."

"That doesn't mean that only 17% will call a travel agent, but it does mean that when they begin shopping and planning, there is a clear predisposition to turn to the Internet," Yesawich said.

As to hot winter-sports destinations, Colorado mountain resorts came out tops, with 77% of the vote. Lake Tahoe (California/Nevada) was next, garnering 58% and Utah mountain resorts was third, with 54%, he said.

Finally, with regard to the lifestyles of skiers and snowboarders, the survey shows respondents are predisposed to taking vacations, interested in dining and apres-ski activities and tend to be younger and more focused on family than the general population.

The bottom line, Yesawich said, is that the percentage of adults with an interest in skiing and snowboarding "is a very substantial market in the current environment."

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