Sun Valley Attempts to Thwart Economy's Effects

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SUN VALLEY, Idaho Feb. 14, 2003 (AP)--Skiers headed to Sun Valley will enjoy all kinds of bargains as the resort community tries to counteract the slumping economy and perceived lack of snow.

Skiers are being offered discount lodging and skiing for the remainder of the ski season to ensure there are plenty of shoppers in the restaurants and retail shops.

"Local businessmen are concerned about what might happen," said Amy Olson with the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

So, rather than waiting until April and the slack season before summer, the merchants are running a promotion even before the traditional Spring Fling promotion.

It includes two nights of lodging and a one-day lift ticket, as well as discount coupons and other offers at restaurants and stores. The cost: $145 per person based on double occupancy.

Sun Valley Resort already has been offering midweek skiers $70 packages that include one-night lodging plus a lift ticket, a bargain when daily lift tickets for adults cost $65 without any discount.

The latest local option tax numbers, for December, indicate Sun Valley business activity is up by 18 percent and Ketchum down by 8 percent compared with December 2001. The taxes are assessed on lodging and other tourist-related services.

But Sun Valley's figures may have been skewed by back taxes being added into the mix, Olson said.

Sun Valley's lift ticket sales are down, in part because of a few rainy days in January. While the last real dump of snow was New Year's Eve, skiers may not realize the runs are being spruced up with a dollop of manmade snow every night.

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