Tourism minister defends Marble Mountain April 2 season shutdown

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Newfoundland and Labrador's tourism minister is making no apologies for the fact that Marble Mountain Ski Resort shuts down on April 2 — well before the popular Easter break where many families have hit the slopes in the past. 

"In the last two weeks, ski visits have dropped off 54 per cent and the hill loses $5,000 a day every day it remains open," says Christopher Mitchelmore, minister of tourism, culture, industry and innovation. 

"From a taxpayer operation, it doesn't make sense to continue beyond the April 2 deadline."

Taxpayer-funded

Mitchelmore told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show  that Marble Mountain Development Corporation is a crown corporation and therefore subsidized by taxpayers. 

In the 2016-17 budget, it received $930,000 in government transfers for operating, capital and marketing expenses combined.

That's less than grants the venue has received in the past, but Mitchelmore said revenues generated fluctuate between $2.2 and $2.7 million. 

It can't only be about skiing

Increasing skiers is the most straight forward way to boost the bottom line, Mitchelmore said.

"We do need to focus on those core operations of having more season pass holders and lift-ticket revenue because that grows the capacity at Marble Mountain."

But, he added, the government will also do a review of the Marble Mountain Development Corporation to figure out how to increase its overall appeal.

"Ultimately, we want more people at the hill, more base activity," he said.

He pointed to success with Marble Zip Tours, and the villa which serves as a wedding venue. 

Mitchelmore said the whole venue is rented out next weekend by the Western Sno-riders for the Race on the Rock.

"The Marble Mountain experience is one that is very valuable to the west coast and the people of the province," he said. 

"It all comes down to dollars and sense."