Tourism forecast cloudy |

Tourism forecast cloudy

Diamond, Perlman confident Steamboat will weather bleak economy

Blythe Terrell

— Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.’s top officials delivered a tourism forecast Friday that was clouded with concern but lined with optimism.

Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rob Perlman spoke at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s annual meeting and Navigator Awards. Diamond took up the gavel as new Chamber president at the gathering.

“What an interesting time to be representing the business community,” Diamond said.

Although the national economic downturn will negatively affect Steamboat, businesses can minimize the impact, he said.

“We can work to make sure we come out of this stronger than the rest of the competitors and better than ever,” Diamond said.

Diamond and Perlman stressed the need for cooperation. The business community and the city must work together, Diamond said.

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“The bottom line is that government and private enterprise always need to be engaged because there are issues where we’re connected at the hip,” he said.

Perlman, who started his talk by showing the Steamboat clip from Warren Miller’s “Children of Winter,” said the base area and downtown must cooperate. Visitors don’t differentiate between the mountain and the town, he said, so businesses across the city should work together.

Ski Corp. hired Perlman in May, snagging him from his role as chief executive officer of Colorado Ski Country USA, the state’s ski trade association. He spoke positively about the season ahead, predicting that the exposure from Miller’s film and last year’s record snow would attract visitors.

“Even us in the industry tend to forget why we’re in this business,” Perlman said. “Steamboat is a special place. A lot of guests want to come here.”

The Chamber chimed in Friday with its own plans for the season. The agency introduced its new Steamboat Spurs on Service program. The push involves training for workers, information packets, Web resources and a business certification program.

In introducing the package, Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall told her own story of Steamboat hospitality. She visited the city for the first time 30 years ago with friends. She was looking for a ski town to make her home. The people were friendly, Evans Hall said, and she knew she’d found the right place.

“I was in tears when we drove up Rabbit Ears Pass to continue on our journey,” she said, “because I felt like this was where I belonged.”

That’s what Spurs on Service is all about, Evans Hall said.

“We’re going to be going through some challenging times here,” she said. “We need to make sure every single guest that comes into this valley feels that connection.”

Evans Hall also encouraged cooperation, urging businesses to spend their money locally, pool their resources, work together and have fun.

If businesses take care of guests, Steamboat will push through the winter with aplomb, Diamond said.

“When it comes to big issues, we always knuckle down and get it done,” he said.